VA preps for mass vaccination clinic - VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
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VA Salt Lake City Health Care System

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VA preps for mass vaccination clinic

Employees at Salt Lake City VA moving equipment to get ready for new clinic

Employees at Salt Lake City VA perform some heavy lifting to make way for a new mass vaccination clinic. When it opens in early March, the clinic will double VA’s existing vaccination rate – increasing it to 4,000 a week (photo by Bert Estrada).

By T.S. Jarmusz
Monday, February 22, 2021

Salt Lake City VA will soon open a new mass vaccination clinic –­ one that could double the number of vaccinations it provides.

The temporary clinic will run in addition to the medical center’s existing clinic. VA made the move to increase Veteran vaccination rates.

“We hope to make getting a vaccine as easy as possible for as many Veterans as we can,” facility planner Caty Bandeko said.

With adequate supply, the medical center can vaccinate about 2,000 Veterans a week. The new clinic, which would be open on Saturdays, could provide another 2,000 vaccines in that one day, she added.


Video by Bert Estrada

 

VA will open the new clinic when it reaches about 2,500 vaccines a week. Depending on vaccine supply, that could be around early March, Bandeko said.

For now, chairs take the place of the heavy machines used to sculpt muscles and condition the heart. The fitness equipment will be stored until the mass vaccination clinic is no longer needed. ­

To create the new clinic, staff had to find room on an already congested campus. Building something new wasn’t an option, so VA did the next best thing: reuse existing space.

While VA wanted to keep the new clinic as close as possible to the existing one, no potential sites were suitable. Some had bottlenecks that lowered patient throughput. Others would impact patient care, she said.

VA employees move weight room equipment
VA employees clear out the medical center’s gym to make room for a new mass vaccination clinic (photo by Bert Estrada).

The temporary loss of the gym is inconvenient for those looking to stay healthy, but the move means more shots in more arms. And the sooner VA can return to normalcy the better it will be for patients and staff.

“We hope to have as many veterans vaccinated as soon as possible,” Bandeko said. “It will help with the health in the community as well as the population in and of itself.

For now, instead of lifting weights, employees will be lifting thousands of vaccines.

While data shows COVID-19 cases on the decline, Bandeko said it’s important not to lose sight that the pandemic is far from over.

“We are getting a lot of people vaccinated but there’s still so many more to go,” Bandeko said. “We hope to keep pace – if not do better than the community. If we had enough vaccine, we would get through everyone in a few months.”

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