Commissioners Working With Clarion Hospital Administration to Prepare Vaccination Clinic
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion County Commissioners on Tuesday morning unanimously approved a four-month lease in a public-private partnership with Clarion Hospital to provide a COVID-19 vaccination clinic site two days a week.
(Photo by Lexis Twentier.)
The vaccination clinic site will be located at the former Peebles store at the Clarion Mall.
“Because of a limited supply of the vaccine, at this point, we’re planning clinics twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only,” said Chief Nursing Officer Leslie Walters. “The reason for appointments has to do with the logistics of the vaccine.”
The lease with Clarion Associates for the former department store is $3,000.00 per month. Commissioner Ted Tharan noted that the money would come from the General Fund and not necessarily from any of the COVID or CARES Grants.
“It’s the least we can do for the citizens to get them vaccinated,” said Tharan. “Our obligation is to take care of our citizens. We don’t know how much additional grant money we will receive.”
Tharan said some of the original grant money remains in the general fund, but it is earmarked.
The preparations were discussed at a Zoom work session held before the regular meeting. Plenty of “thank you’s” were offered, along with some background on the clinic.
Birth of a clinic
“I was talking with hospital president Steven Davis, and we were discussing what would happen if a bunch of vaccines was released. We agreed that the citizens of Clarion County should be vaccinated quickly, and we need a bigger facility to do it,” Tharan said.
Tharan took on the challenge, eyed the former Peebles store location, and went to talk with Denny Hill at the Clarion Mall.
“They treated us real fair, and they’re only basically charging us for the cost of utilities. A big ‘thank you’ to Denny Hill and James Gunn Associates for the mall.
“Some more big ‘thank you’s’ for Steven Davis and Leslie Walters at the hospital. They’re just phenomenal while they tried to meet the needs of the community and get everybody vaccinated as quickly as they can.
“Rose Logue and Cindy Fleming were two volunteers; Mindy Frampton and Jill Fisher, they’re my right hand. Jeff Smathers in charge of public safety and his crew Denny, Brent, and Becca are going to be in charge of public safety outside, and John Stiglitz and his crew are going to take care of all the maintenance of the building and cleaning the floors and the chairs.”
Tharan also thanked fellow commissioners Wayne Brosius and Ed Heasley for their support when he comes up “with these crazy ideas.”
However, Tharan emphasized that the hospital is in charge of everything, and it is their clinic.
“This has been a truly collaborative effort,” said Davis. “We’re going to get vaccines in the arms of our community as quickly as we get the vaccine. We’re committed to that as an organization, and that’s what we’re going to do.
“The other side of that coin is that we have a very limited vaccine, and that’s a message that I’d love to be able to share,” Davis added.
“The message we’re getting from the Department of Health is they don’t really have a whole lot of control over what they get, and they have limited vaccine, as well. We’re asking for a vaccine, and when we get it, we’re going to get it into the community now. We’re not getting a lot, but it does appear as though we’re going to be the vehicle that the state is going to partner with to get these vaccines into their respective communities.”
Davis said Walters, who is in charge of the clinic, kept telling him that she can only do so many vaccines in our current location. The hospital was using its boardroom, and they can only handle so many patients through there in the day.
“The new clinic came together within a day,” continued Davis. “Ted and his team identified a location. So, we appreciate that very much. We gave them the parameters; proximity to the hospital was one, and I think all those things were able to be worked out.
“I’m so thrilled, and I think we can be a model of how a community can come together in the midst of a crisis like this.”
Operation of the clinic
Walters said the new site will allow more vaccinations than its current location.
“We’re able to do more than double the number of vaccines that we are able to give, and so if our vaccine supply was high enough, we could easily give up to 500 vaccines, once vaccine supply increases,” Walters added.
Walters said the Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at a very low temperature, and there is some uncertainty as to the number of doses that you can get out of a vial.
“We don’t want to be in a position where we have people coming in, and we run out of vaccine. We want to be able to have people scheduled. Our goal is to be able to move 40 to 50 people through a clinic in an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are no walk-ins, and it is appointment only.
“We also are focusing on subgroups within that 1A category. Last week there were a lot of questions because the Department of Health moved a lot of people into the 1-A group for eligibility for receiving the vaccine within Butler Health System. Our goal is to focus first on health care and then on the elderly population.
“Our first focus will be on those people over the age of 75 because these are the individuals that we see being most affected negatively. We understand that there are a lot of vulnerable people, and this is really just a starting point. As quickly as we can get the vaccine, we’re going to open up two additional subgroups, but we are starting with those over the age of 75.
“We’re keeping both vaccines: first is Moderna and second will be Pfizer.”
Online scheduling was available last week, but it was temporarily closed because the number of registrations greatly outnumbered the vaccine available. Once more vaccine arrives, online registration will resume.
Links to scheduling are available on the following websites:
Clarion County: www.co.clarion.pa.us;
Clarion Hospital: https://www.clarionhospital.org; and
Butler Health System: https://www.butlerhealthsystem.org/CoronaVirus/COVID-19-Vaccine.
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