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Local News | Aug. 4, 2021

Vaccination Station: Joint-Service Initiative at Navy Exchange Pearl Harbor

By Macy Hinds

In an effort to meet service members and their families where they conduct their day to day lives, Naval Health Clinic Hawaii (NHCH), Tripler Army Medical Center, and the American Red Cross joined together to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the Navy Exchange (NEX) at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The event presents a unique opportunity for military medical staff to step outside their respective service affiliations in the fight against their common enemy: COVID-19.

This particular joint-service collaboration shows the importance of breaking down service barriers to reach all patients.

“It shows the joint nature of this fight,” said Capt. Sean Hussey, Deputy Commanding Officer at Tripler Army Medical Center.

The COVID-19 vaccination event kicked off on July 16 and will be set up a total of 8 days in July and August from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on pay-day weekends. The event is open to all TRICARE eligible patients, to include Active Duty Service Members, retirees, and their families, as well as GS and NAF employees. The BioNTech Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently available to individuals 12 years and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html.

Medical staff and volunteers set up between the UPS Store and Eye Care Center at the NEX Pearl Harbor to facilitate the entire vaccination process from patient check-in to check-out. Staff and volunteers stand by to provide water and snacks, answer questions or concerns, and keep processes flowing smoothly. Following the vaccine, patients wait in the designated, physically distanced space outside for a brief observation period before checking out.

“While the location looks different, the process remains the same,” said Hospital Corpsman Second Class David Tuil, Preventative Medicine Technician at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Pearl Harbor.

The diverse team of military and civilian medical staff work together to document the COVID-19 vaccination in patient records, input data into Military Health System databases, and pull reports. Between shared resources, manpower, and processes, the event from start to finish is a collaborative effort that offers learning opportunities for everyone involved.

“It is always a pleasure working with new people, sharing experiences, and learning new ways to improve upon our own processes” said Tuil. “This was my first experience doing a vaccination event with the Army and all the Soldiers I worked alongside were knowledgeable, professional, and took the time to explain the differences in their processes compared to our own.”

Extensive planning went into preparing for this joint-service event located away from the familiarity of the local healthcare facilities.

“We kept in mind that we would be in a remote location away from hospital resources therefore we needed backups for the backup,” explained Staff Sgt. Letarsha Massey, Behavioral Health Specialist at Tripler.

“When we all work together on one collective goal, which in this case is to get shots into arms, we can accomplish big things” said Massey.

The first two days of the event ended with a successful execution of almost 300 COVID-19 vaccines.

Hawaii military health beneficiaries can expect to see more joint service initiatives in the future. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) established the Hawaii Market on July 13, 2021. Tripler Army Medical Center, NHCH, Desmond T. Doss Health Clinic, and 15th Medical Group now operate as the Hawaii Market to service 150,000 beneficiaries under the administration and management of the DHA. The services work together to standardize and integrate best practices, by sharing resources and manpower to deliver the best healthcare to Hawaii beneficiaries. For more information about the Hawaii Market please visit https://health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Access-Cost-Quality-and-Safety/Access-to-Healthcare/Multi-Service-Markets/Hawaii-Military-Health-System.
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