As the occupants of the lined-up vehicles enjoyed their caffeine, morning talk radio and heaters to combat the chilly morning air, clinic employees adjusted orange safety cones and dialed-in portable workstations.
They were preparing for eight hours of administering the COVID-19 vaccine to 400 enrolled patients via the convenience of a quick and easy drive-through setting.
VA patients form a line in their vehicles to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine at Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic’s vaccination drive-through.
“Over 50,000 patients use our Fort Worth clinic. We knew enabling a drive-through option for the COVID-19 vaccine would be very popular and highly utilized,” said Dr. Stephen Holt, the VA North Texas director.
Nurses checked cars for any adverse reactions
Patients were able to make a reservation for their first or second COVID-19 inoculation at the Fort Worth drive-through. Nurses administered the vaccinations, then directed patients to a parking waiting area. There, nurses and VA police visited each vehicle to check patients for immediate adverse reactions.
“I think it’s great that VA is able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine from the comfort of my car,” said Army Veteran Barbara Pepin, pictured above.
The ability to offer a mobile drive-through option became especially relevant recently when the Fort Worth facility incurred significant water damage during February’s sub-zero winter storm. The storm brought mass power outages and significant challenges throughout all of Texas.
VA North Texas employees worked tirelessly to mitigate the effects of the storm, provide uninterrupted health care and maintain availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The common focus for all employees was one of working past obstacles. They placed the need of their Veterans – their informal family – first and foremost.
“I encourage my fellow Veterans to do the same”
“Being able to come out here today has been an absolute pleasure,” said Rachel Alucheri, clinic nurse. “We can’t see our patients in the clinics this week because of the interior damage. Being able to vaccinate them and address any concerns they have in this way is the next best thing.”
Thus far, VA North Texas has administered over 31,000 Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I came to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect myself and to protect my family,” said Pepin. “I highly encourage all of my fellow Veterans to do the same when they can.”
Yolonde Rocio is a public affairs specialist for the VA North Texas Health Care System.