Freezer Malfunction At Adventist Hospital Forces Innovation: Staff Give Out 600 COVID Vaccinations In Two Hours

5 January 2021 | A freezer storing hundreds of Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations stopped working yesterday at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County, California.

Senior medical staff had to innovate quickly. The vaccines must be stored at frozen temperatures and, once they reach room temperature, they must be used within hours.

Medical staff estimated they had two hours to act before the vaccines no longer were viable.

“With the minutes ticking down, the medical team made the decision that the goal would be to inject every dose, regardless of state guidelines,” said a report on the crisis by the Los Angeles Times.

Staff got on the phone to make sure people on priority lists got access to the vaccines. Forty doses were driven over to a local elder care facility by the Adventist hospital’s chief medical officer. Two hundred doses that belonged to the county were returned. The county jail (which had suffered a COVID outbreak) received 97 doses.

With 600 remaining doses, the hospital turned to the community. A text went out, asking all available medical professionals to help administer shots.

“We had nurses, pharmacists, physicians, even those that are not part of the hospital, coming to help,” said Judson Howe, president for Adventist Health in Mendocino County. “It was all hands on deck and a true community effort.”

The hospital texted all its employees asking them to tell their networks that anyone who came to one of four clinic locations could get a COVID vaccination.

“We just told them ‘Tell everyone you know,’” said Adventist Health spokesperson Cici Winiger to the LA Times. “We just wanted to make sure none of this goes to waste.”

By the two-hour deadline, every dose had been administered.

“It’s just amazing to go toward one goal and get it done,” Winiger said. “I was just thinking in my head, can you imagine if we had more time to do this? If this is how we do a massive vaccination later, we are golden. We can do this.”

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