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Community hospitals shine in vaccine distribution

Jun. 17, 2021, 10:22 AM


by Emily Stembridge

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s community hospitals — Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital (VWCH), Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital and Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital — have risen to the occasion to meet critical vaccination needs across Tennessee. Located in Wilson, Bedford and Coffee counties respectively, these hospitals have had to carefully consider strategies for distribution, clear communication of vaccine availability, and appropriate storage and handling for vaccines.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people living in rural communities tend to be older, of lower socioeconomic status and are more likely to have chronic conditions, which may put them at higher risk of getting COVID-19. Equitable vaccination in these communities is vital to overcoming the pandemic.

“All of our hospitals and clinics have gone the extra mile, helping to vaccinate citizens living and working in their communities from the threat of COVID. Each facility has played an integral role in partnership with their county’s health authorities to provide this service. I am very proud of these efforts that have protected fellow Tennesseans from illness or hospitalization,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital

VWCH has partnered with the Wilson County Health Department to vaccinate eligible individuals for COVID-19. The efforts of VWCH employees, all of whom volunteered outside of their usual jobs, have resulted in more than 14,000 vaccinations since Feb. 1.

In addition to vaccinations administered onsite at VWCH, staff have traveled to Del Webb at Lake Providence community, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy and the Wilson County Jail to administer vaccines to the broader Wilson County community — particularly the vulnerable elderly population and essential workers such as teachers. Additional vaccination sites staffed by VWCH employees are currently in development.

“We want the people of Wilson County to know that we’re here to help,” said Scott McCarver, MHA, Chief Operating Officer of VWCH. “Distributing 14,000 vaccines is a significant milestone, and we’re eager to create new partnerships in the community and continue growing that number.”


Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital

Since Jan. 1, Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital has administered 1,383 initial doses and 1,332 booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in a total of 2,715 vaccines administered to the community.

Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital has been in frequent communication with community organizations, such as the Bedford County Health Department and the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, to ensure its citizens are aware of vaccine availability. Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital continues to advertise through the Chamber of Commerce, city and county municipalities and Vanderbilt Clinics to vaccinate their community.

“We continue to see cases in our hospital, and it is still a very serious virus. Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital continues to emphasize the importance of vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus for community welfare, protection of friends and family, and to maintain momentum back to ‘normal.’ Getting vaccinated is a key component to winning this battle,” said Troy Miller, MD, hospitalist and medical director at Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital.


Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital

Since it first began offering vaccinations, Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital has worked to combat misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring the community that vaccines work, are safe, and will help end the pandemic, while emphasizing the importance of togetherness.

“From the first COVID-19 vaccination that we offered the community in collaboration with the Tennessee and Coffee County Departments of Health, we were thankful for the opportunity to play an important role in protecting the citizens who turned to us,” said Rich Ellis, president of Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital. “To date, we have administered more than 4,658 vaccinations. Although the demand has lessened, we continue to enthusiastically support and provide the vaccinations.”

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