NDDH Drive-Through Flu Clinic Exercise a Success

Health Department Drive-Through Flu Clinic Operates Efficiently and Effectively.

Participants arrive for the start of the NDDH Drive-Through Flu Clinic Exercise on October 25, 2015

Participants arrive for the start of the NDDH Drive-Through Flu Clinic Exercise on October 25, 2015

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, the Northeast District Department of Health (NDDH) held an emergency training exercise to test their preparedness capabilities. To recruit participants, the health department offered free flu shots to adults. The event, called “Drive Thru to Avoid the Flu” was held at Killingly Intermediate School (KIS) in Dayville and was part of a two day exercise, the first being a drive-through clinic held on Saturday in Norwich to test the capabilities of the Uncas Health District.

“The main purpose of the exercise was to test an alternative way to dispense medication to people quickly in case of something like a pandemic or a bioterrorism attack,” said NDDH Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Derek May. “It's possible that we would be dispensing pills instead of giving out injections, but the model is the same. We know that the drive-through model can work for a certain segment of the population and thanks to Sunday’s exercise, we now have a template to use for the KIS location.”

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Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer Nurse Madeline Oden administers a flu shot to a participant at the NDDH Drive-Through Flu Clinic Exercise.

Sixty public health volunteers affiliated with the Northeast CT Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) performed set-up, break-down, and all other operational aspects of the clinic. After a short briefing by May, who served as the event’s Incident Commander, MRC volunteers completed the set up of the entire operation in just over an hour. By 1:00 pm approximately a dozen cars had arrived and the clinic was officially underway. Adult participants drove through a number of checkpoints, handed off their forms, stuck their arm out of the window for their shot, and were on their way out within minutes. As a standard medical precaution, participants getting a flu shot for the very first time were asked to pull off into a waiting area to be monitored for roughly 15 minutes.

May says that NDDH is still compiling statistics from the operation, but that he was "pleased to have had over 50 cars go through, giving 73 flu shots in a safe and effective manner. The average time from clinic entry to exit was between five to seven minutes per person. We can already see that people who filled out their forms ahead of time went through faster than those who had not, and that carpooling was more efficient than arriving as a single driver.”

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Medical Reserve Corps volunteers greet arrivals at the NDDH Drive-Through Flu Clinic Exercise on October 25, 2015.

Nancy Beaudry, NDDH Public Health Nurse, served as the clinic’s Vaccination Operations Leader and oversaw the teams of vaccinators and assistants who delivered the flu shots. “The operation ran smoothly due to the professionalism and efficiency of well-trained staff and volunteers; and plenty of willing participants,” she remarked. “The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. People appreciated the convenience and we appreciated the chance to test our systems.”

Anyone who would like to learn more about MRC or future volunteer opportunities should contact Derek May at NDDH by calling 860-774-7350 x. 25 or via email at dmay@nddh.org.

“I can’t give enough thanks to the volunteers and regional planning partners who turned out to assist in the clinic operation,” added May. “On a somewhat rainy and dismal Sunday afternoon, they showed up, put on a smile, did a great job, and made the exercise a complete success.”