Way to Health

Responding to COVID-19. Part 2 - Community Vaccination Clinics

Mar 15, 2021

This is part 2 of a series on Way to Health's involvement in helping address the pandemic. This post focuses on the design and launch of the Community Vaccine Clinics project. Black Americans are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and twice as likely to be hospitalized. They are also under-vaccinated compared to other groups. There was an intentional effort at Penn Medicine to set up community vaccination clinics in partnership with local community and faith based organizations to try and vaccinate this vulnerable population. Led by Dr. Kathleen Lee and supported on the backend by Way to Health, the effort has so-far managed to vaccinate 3000+ individuals over three 1 day clinics. The aggregate NPS across all three clinics is 94!

Mohan Balachandran Mohan Balachandran

Equity isn’t hard, but it does take intentional work to overcome the inequitable inertia of the status quo.

-- Dr. Eugenia South


Black Americans are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, and twice as likely to become hospitalized with COVID than their white counterparts. Thus far, they are also statistically under-vaccinated for COVID-19, largely due to both difficulty in accessing the shots and an underlying mistrust of the larger health care industry. Mercy Catholic, nearby at 54th and Cedar, has been treating people in this neighborhood for over a century. We partnered with them to put together our first off-site mass vaccination event, which was preceded by outreach and education programs to convince neighbors that it would be safe. As Kat Lee says in this NPR article, “We set forth on creating a clinic that would promote accessibility while using novel principles of no/low tech to ensure we would provide an environment in a day when anyone and everyone would have access to it, and use this concept to inform additional clinics.” The effort was dubbed the Vaccine Collaborative and you can follow more about this project on Twitter under the #VaccineCollaborative hashtag.

What happened

It takes a village to raise a child

-- African proverb

There were a lot of stakeholders and teams that had to be pulled together to make this work. Here are some (not all) of the decisions that were made to make this project a reality.

Clinic 1 at the Church of Christian Compassion on 2/13/2021. Goal: 500 vaccinations. Actual: 550

alt Community Clinic 1 - Church of Christian Compassion

  • Goal was to try and vaccinate 500 individuals in 6 hours.
  • While that might seem like a small number, the logistics had to be sorted out at the same time. “Logistics” included getting the vaccinations to the site, defining the flow of patients per site - appointment check-in, consenting, administration, observation, check-out, printed forms for each individual, data collection to upload to the PhilaVax central site, t-shirts for the volunteers, breakfast, coffee, lunch, chairs, tables, Wi-Fi etc etc.
  • Community leaders gathered contact information from interested people
  • W2H also provided an inbound SMS and IVR based flow to allow people to register. People could pick a slot they wanted based on available capacity which could be updated as needed. This appointment functionality was a stretch for us to be frank. We didn’t think we could make it happen but Michael Kopinsky came up with an idea to make this happen leveraging an obscure function that had been built into W2H for a completely different purpose.
  • We built out the IVR flow using Twilio Studio. While W2H has some of these capabilities, for the timeline in which this was needed, we decided to just go with Twilio.
  • All 500 slots were taken in 24 hours.
  • We expected cancellations so walk-ins were allowed and planned for.
  • I can’t even begin to imagine the challenges that Kat Lee and other leaders had to work thought to make this happen.
  • There was a lot of calling required to get some people to register.

The clinic ran smoothly with some hiccups as with anything run for the very first time. Those were addressed quickly and we now knew what to do the next time around. Kudos to Neda Khan who led the entire effort from a W2H perspective with a huge amount of support from Michael Kopinsky. Lauren Hahn from the CDH group within CHCI did incredible work defining the language and flow of SMS and IVR and much more.

The clinic was a success with zero lines and received a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 90 with 300 respondents. And as with anything else, the reward for a job well done is another job.

Clinic at the Francis Myers Recreation Center on 2/27/2021. Goal: 750 vaccinations. Actual: 765

alt Community Clinic 2 - Francis Myers Rec Center

  • To be more inclusive, we shifted to a rec center.
  • The decision was also made to make this a fully inbound process. Anyone could call or text into the numbers provided. The system would take on the responsibility to ask and collect information on zipcodes, allergies, race, date of birth and much more to make sure we had all the data needed to fill out the forms needed and to also report back to the city. This ultimately worked well but I can assure you that when the protocol is finalized on Friday morning and the system needs to go-live on Sunday, there will be blood challenges. That’s a joke btw, although I’ve been told my joke skills are terrible and I should keep my day job. We got it done over the weekend and in time for a Sunday launch.

I had the privilege of being able to volunteer at this clinic. My responsibility, along with Davis Herman was to help Neda Khan manage the flow of people who showed up without an appointment or had issues setting up their appointment. It was an extraordinary experience. We managed to sign up and get 110 additional walk-ins vaccinated when others canceled their appointments.

As before, there were no lines and NPS still remained at around 90 with over 500 cumulative respondents.

Clinic at the School of the Future on 3/6/2021. Goal: 1500 vaccinations. Actual: 1543

  • We implemented two new approaches to reach out to the community:
  • 1) We had an ambassador program that engaged people who had been vaccinated at one of our two previous clinics and asked them to share the clinic number with people they know qualify and need a vaccine. We were able to recruit 99 ambassadors to help spread the clinic number to their family members and neighbors.
  • 2) We worked with community group leaders and community establishments to engage their communities, such as local barbershops.
  • We anticipated 10-15% cancellations/no-shows so we opened up 1750 slots to the community. We booked 1762 appointments and after cancellations and no-shows, we able to go above our target and vaccinate 1543 patients.

As a quick note, the aggregate NPS score across all three clinics is 94.

It was also validating to see this note in the Philadelphia Inquirer (Letters to the Editor) and the accompanying photo. Thanks to Penn Medicine’s CMO, P.J. Brennan (no relation to the author of that letter!!) for clipping, copying and sharing that with all of us.

alt Inquirer Letters to Editor

Hope you found this post useful. Please feel free to drop us a line via the Contact link below and we’ll be happy to discuss this more with you. Look for part 3 of this series next week.