“I saw the signs, I can’t believe it, this is wonderful.” – Happy Veteran at a VA drive-through flu clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Sitting at the wheel of his vehicle near the south entrance to John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital, a Veteran was happy to offer his upper arm out the driver’s side window to a VA nurse. “I’m grateful,” he says as the nurse gently positioned the needle in his arm. “This is nothing but good, good for us.”
From Sep. 26 to Oct. 25, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System nurses administered more than 1,250 flu shots through car, SUV, and pickup windows, and to motorcyclists, wheelchair-bound Veterans, and a few mobility scooter riders. All part of an innovative approach to meeting the needs of Veterans through convenience, technology, ease of navigation and Veteran satisfaction.
Partnership and collaboration
Guided by the VHA mission, a productive partnership was formed between Patient Care Services, the Innovations office and six other facility service lines that cleared the way for proactive change in the way immunization care is delivered at CAVHS.
Standing Operating Procedures, flyers, advertisement boards, a media campaign and ‘just in time’ training were all developed by the team in an overall effort to increase the number of flu shots provided to Veterans. Computers on Wheels (COWs) were tested and positioned, procedure carts were stocked and refrigeration put in place, portable traffic barriers and cones were positioned. The first day of the new drive-through flu clinic kicked off with a flu shot for the VA’s Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration/Operations, Security and Preparedness, Daniel Sitterly, who was visiting CAVHS facilities the week of Sep. 23.
A Veteran flu clinic continues to operate at both CAVHS facilities and all eight Community Based Outpatient Clinics. Some CBOCs have held their own drive-through clinics.
“It gives me joy to provide this service to our Veterans,” said one CAVHS nurse, “and it is so rewarding to see so many Veterans who may not have received a flu shot drive though to protect themselves from getting sick.”
“This is ‘fill your tank’ kind of nursing,” said another nurse. “I have been reinvigorated and it’s so fun talking with these Veterans. They are so grateful.”
“What began as a spark of an idea, seeded quickly into a very successful, multi-service-line project that subsequently spread to CBOCs,” said Sandy Foster, DNP, MNSc, RN, Chief Nurse Executive, CAVHS’ Nursing Service. “The drive-through flu shot clinic demonstrates VA core values and our alignment with the VA’s mission and vision by serving and honoring America’s Veterans with forward thinking, proactive planning, and world-class service.”
CAVHS plans to offer the service in subsequent flu seasons.
Shannon Verch and Chris A. Durney are public affairs specialists at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System