Memorial Hermann’s COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at NRG Park a National Model of Success

By Alexandra Becker

Last week, Memorial Hermann Health System vaccinated approximately 14,500 community members against COVID-19 over the course of just four days. The event—admired for both its scope and operational efficiency—is now being hailed as a national model for future efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to the general population throughout the U.S.

So, what did it take to pull it off?

According to Binita Patel, Vice President of Pharmacy Services for Memorial Hermann Health System, the two key components were location and manpower.

“We had our sights set on NRG Park because of its size, its location and its partnerships,” Patel explained. “We knew they would be able to help us with our staffing model and the volume we hoped to fulfill within such a short period of time.” 

In addition to the volunteers from the community, the drive-thru clinic was also staffed by volunteers from across the Memorial Hermann Health System as well as student volunteers from Texas Southern University School of Pharmacy and University of Houston College of Pharmacy. Harris County Constable Precinct 1 also provided police officers for added security for the event. In total, more than 700 individuals gave their time to the effort.

The event began on Thursday, Jan. 14 and ran through Sunday, Jan. 17, and was open to members of the Houston-area community 65 years of age and older, in accordance with Texas’ Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccination guidelines. It operated like a “drive-thru,” wherein pre-registered individuals entered via a dedicated gate at NRG Park and followed lanes lined with orange cones to a registration verification site. Individuals who met the age criteria and presented their registration and appointment confirmation along with a photo ID were then directed to a vaccination tent, where they opened their car door to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. After their shot, each was asked to enter an observation lot, where they remained in their cars for 15 minutes, per CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations.

“The monitoring site was staffed with clinical volunteers as well as a physician in case anyone needed additional clinical support,” Patel said. “We also had two Emergency Medical Services vehicles staffed with personnel onsite at all times.”

Individuals who were able to receive their vaccine said they were pleasantly surprised with how easy the process was.

“The whole event was amazingly organized, easy, fast and effortless,” said Amy Freeman, a community member who received her first shot of the Moderna vaccine at the clinic. “Everyone I encountered was smiling, thanking us for coming, and could not have been more professional or polite. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity—it is such a relief!”

Since the clinic concluded, Patel said she’s received calls from health systems across the U.S. asking for guidance on how to design similar large-scale vaccination events. 

“We are more than willing to share how we did this,” Patel said. “There’s no advantage to us to holding that information. I’m telling everyone that now that we have this model, a clinic like this is fairly easy to replicate, and we’re providing our blueprint to whomever asks.”

Patel said that one of the components that bolstered the clinic’s success was the creation of a homegrown web tool as part of the registration process, which eliminated much of the required paperwork and allowed for each participant to be automatically integrated into Memorial Hermann’s electronic medical records. Not only did this create more efficiency onsite during the registration confirmation process, but it also supported follow-up efforts, since the vaccine requires a second dose. Notably, each participant will be returning to NRG Park for their second shot in the coming weeks.

Patel added that Memorial Hermann hopes to host additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the future as more and more doses become available. She said that success depends on how much allocation Memorial Hermann receives from the state, estimating that they would plan to vaccinate 5,000 community members a day during the course of another multi-day drive-thru clinic, depending on vaccine allocation.

“The main message I want to emphasize is that hosting an event like this is doable,” Patel said. “It’s very, very doable.”

Comments

  1. My wife and I have received both our covid shots at NRG, Jan 12 and Feb 12. All your employees and volunteers should be recognized. They were polite, professional and friendly. The first event on Jan 12 was a little cold but Feb 12 was a lot colder. The staffing kept their smiles going. I know they were miserable. NRG parking lot can be windy. God bless all of your staff and volunteers.

    I worked in law enforcement for over 30 years. I know they had a tough job. As a senior citizens, my wife and I say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

  2. Memorial Hermann is actively working to expand our capacity and open additional appointments as we receive additional allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine. When appointments are available, we will update our website and share that information on our official social media channels. We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding during this time, and pledge to keep things moving just as quickly and efficiently as we possibly can. Please visit, https://memorialhermann.org/services/conditions/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-frequently-asked-questions.

  3. Memorial Hermann is actively working to expand our capacity and open additional appointments as we receive additional allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine. When appointments are available, we will update our website and share that information on our official social media channels. We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding during this time, and pledge to keep things moving just as quickly and efficiently as we possibly can. Please visit, https://memorialhermann.org/services/conditions/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-frequently-asked-questions.

  4. I need to know your website for the upcoming registration for Covid 19 vaccination. thank you.

  5. Wasn’t this the vaccination event that Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo provided many volunteers, as well????

  6. It was a great experience I was so surprised,I want to thank everyone,God Bless you all.cant wait for my 2nd shot.

  7. How can we register to get a vaccination here. My husband has very bad heart condition and we are both over 70

  8. I am an employee of MHHS and already completed my vaccination. But my husband, who goes to one our many MH provider, even recently did a difficult Heart catheterization in my hospital but has yet to get an invite to get his vaccine. He is getting frustrated , anxious that the wait is getting sooo long .
    I know the demand is more the vaccine available, but can anyone tell if it is worth the wait for MH invite.
    Or I just forget altogether and try get his name on the list everywhere BUT MH

  9. Mid-afternoon on a weekday (Thursday) was a good time to go. No lines at any of the checkpoints. It took ten minutes from the time we arrived to the time we were both inoculated. An advantage of going earlier during the event is that if there is a future vaccine supply issue, you will closer to the front of the line for a second shot. Thank you Memorial Hermann for a well planned, well organized event.

  10. I want to get on the list for the next vaccine. I am 82 and have had no luck finding a source,

  11. I was so impressed by the happy staff and smooth operation. My former employer Memorial Hermann did a fantastic job

  12. It sounds like it went well…however 6 out of 10 people have no idea where to go when it’s their turn. I am in group 1B but by the time I hear about registration at one of these sites all the available appointments are gone. How hard would it be to create a waiting list that a person could sign up to and when their number is called they are given an appointment? This shouldn’t be this hard. Everyone is left to fend for themselves and find a vaccine in a mad max post apocalyptic fashion. We can and should do better as a nation.

  13. This is exactly true to my husband’s and my experience. If ALL vaccination sites could operate with the organized, cheerful, helpful excellence of Memorial Hermann, we all could be living in community again so much sooner.

  14. I am a 69 year old female with no underlying health issues , my friend is a 68 year old friend has Type 2 diabetes…I am on no list and really don’t know where to start. Can you advise?

  15. I was vaccinated on Sunday at NRG and it went sooooo smoothly! I was out of there in 30 minutes!

  16. I had some reservations but the experience was very good. Not worried going for second vaccine. I’m 75 and get anxious about everything.

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