Riverside All-In on Vaccination Efforts

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Dear Editor:

After a difficult year, vaccinations offer the hope of returning to “normal.” It is understandable that the limited supply of available vaccines is frustrating to many. Riverside has been the Shore’s unwavering resource for COVID-19 prevention and treatment, and now for vaccinations.

Riverside has allocated significant human and financial resources to treating
patients and to keeping our community safe. All team members are directly treating or indirectly supporting COVID-19 patients.

Riverside invested in ample personal protective equipment, we modified our facilities, and we reinvented our procedures, all to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Our providers never suspended appointments, so care was always accessible for anyone who needed it.

Before vaccines were even available, Riverside invested in ultracold storage freezers so there was no obstacle to distributing the vaccine. The first vaccine doses to be allocated to the Shore required the ultracold storage which Riverside provided for all vaccinating entities.

To quickly vaccinate as many patients as possible despite limited doses, Riverside used its  electronic health records to identify and schedule patients who fit the strict 1a, and later, 1b criteria. This efficient process allows the patient to choose a convenient  time and date.

In addition to vaccinations administered in our offices, Riverside has provided thousands of vaccinations to providers from other health systems, EMS workers in both counties, essential school personnel, Tangier Island residents, aquaculture workers, social workers, and residents of Community Services Board congregate housing. Riverside offered 11 mass vaccination clinics including seven conveniently on Saturdays.

Late last year, Riverside was able to directly source doses of vaccine, but today doses are allocated by the Virginia Department of Health to its local health districts based on percent of population. The Eastern Shore Health District splits its allotment among Riverside, Eastern Shore Rural Health, and the health department, but the small weekly allotment cannot keep up with demand. Even with these limitations, Riverside on the Shore has administered more than 7,000 doses which is nearly 50% of all doses on the Shore.

We look forward to the day when enough vaccine is available for anyone who wants it. Until then, Riverside is carefully and efficiently following the CDC’s guidance in distributing limited vaccine to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

Robert Crockett, RSMH Board Chairman
John Peterman, RSMH President