Thrive by IU Health

April 06, 2021

Fighting as a community

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Fighting as a community

In just over 100 days, the IU Health South Central Region has given out over 60,000 COVID-19 vaccines.

That milestone is amazing when you think about the beginning of the sites in Paoli and Bloomington, which were originally meant for a sprint instead of a marathon. Past experience had IU Health Community Health ready with tried-and-true plans used for vaccination clinics, but as situations changed so did the plans.

“I believe it was sometime in November that we learned we would be an A1 site at IU Health Bloomington Hospital,” said IU Health Community Health program manager Amy Meek, RN. “So, in my brain I already knew community health would be doing this.”

“My initial thought was, ‘community health is good at this,’” said IU Health Community Health Director Carol Weiss-Kennedy. “We just wanted to get started because we knew we'd figure it out.”

The “1A” group was decided by the Indiana Department of Health and encompassed healthcare providers, which were the individuals who were most likely to come in contact with COVID-19 regularly. The Bloomington 1A site was chosen based on a number of factors including: it’s accessibility by those with disabilities, the feasibility of social distancing larger number of people, and proximity to the pharmacy where the vaccines were held.

Weiss-Kennedy said, “We thought we would only be in it for a month or two, we didn't have any clue that it was going to be opened up to 80-year-olds almost overnight.”

With the change from healthcare providers, to members of the public, the plans continued to evolve.

Meek explained, “I think our first plan was to do 360 people a day in Bloomington, which seems like nothing now. Our actual throughput is supposed to be 576, but I think our busiest day we saw 1,,111 people.”

And the vaccination teams in the region keep hitting milestones, showing off their skills as a well-oiled machine that’s recently surpassed 60,000 vaccines.

“So, at first that seemed almost impossible, but now it seems—I don't know, it's just another day's work,” said Meek. “Every time we hit a milestone, especially big ones like 60,000, it's just another motivator for everyone who's working the clinics every day.”

But even the non-team-milestone shots are milestones for those receiving the vaccine. After all, this is the light at the end of the tunnel for them.

“People are excited, they're in tears because they're going to be able to see their grandchildren or their grandparents,” said Weiss-Kennedy. “It's like a new lease on life. We're going to get through this, get on the other side of it, and everybody is helping out.”

“People are still just happy to be able to do normal life stuff and not have to worry about COVID,” said Meek. “When I got the vaccine, I tried not to cry because it was just emotional. It was what we knew would be the beginning of the end of this, or the beginning of herd immunity so we can at least get back to some sense of normal life.”

Weiss-Kennedy described her experience with the second shot as feeling like she was whole again, ready to take on the world.

“Trust the science—Don’t hesitate in getting the vaccine, and help others get theirs,” said Weiss-Kennedy. “Side effects are minimal. And they’re a good sign—they’re a sign that it's working.”

“We have that tagline, ‘we're in this together,’ and that's not just healthcare workers,” said Meek. “It's going to take everybody stepping up to get vaccinated when it's their turn.”

Visit ourshot.in.gov or call 211 to make your COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

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