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Meeting the vaccine distribution challenge with creativity and determination

Heroic. Inspiring. Collaborative. Historic.

These are just a few words to describe the speed, sophistication and determination with which health care providers, businesses, community organizations and individual volunteers across our region have worked to meet the most pressing need of the moment: delivering COVID-19 vaccines to members of our community in coordination with public health authorities to save lives and bring an end to the pandemic.

It has been an honor to watch our caregivers set up clinics, develop technology solutions and work through adversity to deliver shots in arms.

Just ten weeks ago, Swedish was one of the first hospitals in the nation to receive a shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Like others, we spent months prior to the arrival of the first doses preparing to take on the monumental task of vaccinating thousands of people each day, starting with health care workers, then pivoting to people in the community who meet the eligibility criteria.

While we were able to deliver the first round of doses at our hospitals, we knew that our campuses alone would not be able to accommodate the volume of community members needing vaccines. To scale up our operations, we partnered with Seattle University to launch the Swedish Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle U. Within a few days of opening, that clinic provided more than 2,500 vaccine doses per day. As of Tuesday, Feb. 16, Swedish has administered a total of 75,728 vaccines, including both first and second doses.

Getting the Seattle U clinic off the ground was an incredible logistical achievement. Managing the flow of patients in an orderly and efficient manner requires over 300 volunteers a day, divided into two shifts. We are grateful to the more than 8,000 community volunteers who have stepped forward to help staff the clinic, without whom we would not be able to meet the community’s need. Those volunteers did the important work of greeting patients, processing their information, monitoring them after their shots, answering questions and maintaining the highest standard of hygiene at the clinic.

We are also grateful to our business partners at Cellnetix Pathology & Laboratories, T-Mobile and Denali who helped us deploy a mobile clinic to bring the vaccine directly to people in under-resourced parts of our community, targeting zip codes with high percentages of positive COVID-19 tests and low access to care. This ongoing effort reflects our shared commitment to address systemic health inequities and deliver care where it is most needed.

These clinics have played a vital role in delivering on Washington state’s goal of administering doses at scale to protect everyone in our community. We are committed to scaling up our efforts with community partners in the coming weeks, as more vaccine becomes available.

Throughout this intense period, I have been exceedingly proud of our caregivers’ professionalism, dedication to safety and tireless commitment to serving others. They have stepped up and rallied together to change the trajectory of this pandemic. And when faced with unexpected obstacles, they have excelled with creativity, poise and focus.

In so many ways, our caregivers have been exactly the kind of heroes our community needs in this moment.

I am humbled to serve alongside them and appreciate their extraordinary work.

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