Guthrie preparing for next phase in COVID-19 vaccinations

Guthrie is working on a plan for large-scale public COVID-19 vaccinations.

SAYRE — Guthrie is currently working with regional health systems and departments in Pennsylvania and New York to develop a large-scale plan for public COVID-19 vaccination.

Governors of both states have announced that those who qualify to receive the vaccine under Phase 1B’s criteria — individuals over 75 and essential workers — are able to begin receiving vaccinations now.

Although Guthrie clinics cannot provide the COVID-19 vaccines to patients yet, staff will keep communicating with patients and will schedule appointments once they are ready to begin administering the vaccine.

The Guthrie system is planning on administering the vaccine to eligible recipients at nine regional medical office locations on top of its four hospitals, according to the press release. Guthrie is collaborating with several departments of health and health systems to ensure that everyone eligible to receive the vaccine has access to it.

“While Guthrie and its many community partners await the next shipment of vaccine, allotted for phase 1B recipients, plans are being put into place to ensure vaccine clinics run efficiently. These plans must take into account the amount of vaccine available, staffing and scheduling to ensure vaccinations run smoothly,” the press release read.

“Guthrie is partnering in every corner of its 12-county service area to coordinate vaccine distribution. There are several considerations that must be addressed, including securing ample space and parking, smooth scheduling, clear messaging, sufficient staffing and of course, what is the hardest to predict and plan for – sufficient supply of vaccine,” said Dr. Michael Scalzone, who is the Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer for Guthrie.

Scalzone said that there’s a contact in each of the 12 counties that Guthrie serves and that they speak every day, whether it’s coordinating who has the vaccine, staffing needs, site needs, or anything else that’s needed in order to get them ready to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Scalzone explained there’s three steps to vaccination: indications as supplied by the state, vaccine supply, and its distribution/administration — which is where health systems like Guthrie come into play.

“There’s this really amazing collaboration between healthcare systems that generally act as competitors rather than collaborators, and much more closely with public health departments than what has typically been done in the past. I think it’s really exciting to watch how people are working together,” he said.

The allotment of vaccines shipped to Guthrie sites in New York State as a part of Phase 1A have all been administered to health care workers. Those sites have staff ready to go and are now awaiting the next shipment of vaccines for Phase 1B.

Four million New York residents are awaiting their vaccinations in Phase 1B.

Pennsylvania has received 827,300 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to date, according to Secretary of Health Dr. Rahcel Levine.

This includes 285,671 doses that have been administered to healthcare personnel and those living and working in long-term care facilities. Of that number, 243,089 were just the first dose of one of the two vaccines and only 21,291 healthcare personnel and long-term care staff and residents have received both doses and are now considered fully immunized.

Dr. Levine said during Monday’s livestream update that over 48,00 residents and staff members of skilled nursing facilities have been vaccinated.

“That number could actually be a little higher as we are waiting on CVS to complete the upload of its data into our system,” she noted.

Another 138,000 doses have been allotted for the state this week. The shipment will arrive throughout the week, rather than arrive all at once. Dr. Levine said that this will impact the administration schedule.

A new feature was added to the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday which shows a map of where healthcare personnel who are not facilitated with a healthcare facility can get vaccinated. It includes contact information for each location in order to set up appointments.

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