About 19,000 people have joined Lake Regional Health System’s COVID-19 vaccination waiting list during the past seven weeks. Clearly, demand for the vaccine has been strong since the hospital began accepting names on the list on Jan. 8. Unfortunately, vaccine supply has not yet caught up with the demand.
“We are committed to meeting the needs of every person who joins our wait list,” said Dane W. Henry, FACHE, chief executive officer of Lake Regional Health System. “However, the limiting factor for us and all area providers right now is vaccine supply.”
At the Ready
The health system requests vaccine for the hospital and clinics weekly using the required process established by the State of Missouri. The state then notifies the health system how many doses will be shipped the following week. Most weeks, the hospital has received zero doses through the weekly Pfizer allotment process. Lake Regional’s clinics have fared better requesting Moderna vaccine through the state but typically receive far fewer than the number of doses requested.
Although supply uncertainty makes it difficult to plan, Lake Regional has vaccinators at the ready and has established a temporary location to stand up vaccination clinics quickly. This agility has enabled the health system to take advantage of unused vaccine redistributed from other sources. For example, the health system received 300 primary doses of Moderna vaccine that a retail pharmacy chain was unable to administer last week.
“Our team has left no stone unturned,” Henry said. “We are working daily with the state, and we are thankful for the support we’ve received from the Missouri Hospital Association and our partners throughout Region F in helping us acquire vaccine for our community.”
Henry also thanked Prewitt Enterprises and Companies for donating the temporary space, the former Pier 1 Imports building on Jr Prewitt Parkway in Osage Beach.
“Having a space outfitted and ready to go has been invaluable to our efforts,” Henry said. “Our team has succeeded in creating an efficient process that keeps our patients safe while moving them through the vaccination process quickly. This system has enabled us to vaccinate nearly 800 people in one day at this location.”
The hospital’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts began in December with health system employees and area health care providers, who are considered Phase 1A by the state. When the state opened vaccination eligibility to Phase 1B groups, Lake Regional transitioned to community vaccination efforts, holding its first clinic on Jan. 22. Lake Regional primary care clinics also have hosted vaccination clinics, pulling in patients from the health system’s wait list.
As of Feb. 26, the health system has administered more than 8,700 total doses of vaccine, including primary and secondary doses.
“We want the community to know that we are pushing hard to get as many shots in arms as possible,” Henry said. “If you are on our wait list, please be patient. We are steadily working our way to you. We will call you to schedule an appointment at one of our clinics or community events just as soon as we have vaccine available for you.”
Keep Up to Date
In response to customer inquiries, Lake Regional has added several progress indicators to its website at lakeregional.com/vaccine.
Vaccine data reported on the site now indicates the total number of doses administered by Lake Regional, as well as the sign-up date currently being scheduled for appointments.
“We are committed to administering the vaccine in the order that eligible area residents signed up,” Henry said. “Adding this sign-up date indicator to our website gives people a sense of where they are on the list in relation to where we are in terms of scheduling.”
Henry said he believes distribution to the lake area will improve when federal vaccine shipments to the state become more consistent and reliable.
“This is a huge undertaking, at the federal, state and local level,” Henry said. “It will take time, but it will happen.”
Meanwhile, lake-area health departments and Central Ozarks Medical Center also continue to offer the vaccine, as it is made available to them. And, these providers, Lake Regional Health System and representatives from area EMS, fire and police agencies are working with the Missouri National Guard to bring a mass vaccination event to Osage Beach on March 7 at the School of the Osage.
“This collaboration will allow us and the health departments to deliver vaccine to 2,500 people currently on our wait list,” Henry said. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to scale up our delivery of the vaccine and to meet the needs of so many community members at once. We appreciate the School of the Osage making their facility available to us, as well as the assistance the group has received from the Missouri National Guard and area EMS in planning this event.”
“We are encouraging everyone who is waiting on vaccination to register with the state using the Navigator tool, even those who already joined our wait list,” Henry said. “This new tool may be the fastest way individuals can connect to vaccination clinics, especially if they are able to drive outside the lake area.”
If you need to be removed from the Lake Regional waiting list, please fill out the form at lakeregional.com/removeme.