Quick in and quick out: Central Albertans using the COVID-19 clinic at Westerner Park are amazed at its well-ordered efficiency.
“I was very impressed,” said Stuart Meston of Three Hills, who left the clinic within 50 minutes of arriving Thursday — even after spending a half-hour under observation after getting the shot (instead of the usual 15 minutes), because of an underlying condition.
Meston was not surprised to hear the Red Deer facility is giving out shots at twice the rate of clinics with traditional set-ups.
“They were very friendly and very efficient,” added Meston, who was admittedly a little hesitant to make his vaccination appointment in Red Deer after seeing huge televised lineups in front of Edmonton and Calgary clinics.
But he got a booking sooner in Red Deer than waiting to get vaccinated at a Three Hills pharmacy — and he has no regrets. In fact, Meston added it was about as “pleasant” an experience as getting a jab can be.
The fast turn-over is possible because Westerner Park has adopted a quicker, safer hub strategy vaccine delivery that was first used in Ontario.
Instead of the usual clinic set-up, where clients have to wait their turn to be called, and then are moved around to different spaces for their shot and recovery, people at Westerner Park are immediately directed to sit in one of 72 individual stalls or “pods,” which are separated by partial walls.
Two nurses pushing a mobile vaccination cart will then go up and down the aisles, vaccinating people from pod to pod.
As one nurse prepares to give the needle, a second nurse will ask questions and take down people’s vital information, said Adele McIntyre, of Rimbey, who got her shot on Thursday.
“I found it to be very good, very efficient,” said McIntyre, who entered the Westerner Park clinic at 9:50 a.m. and left by 10:45 a.m. (including her extended observation time because she’s prone to anaphylactic shock.)
Others also concurred that the operation felt safe and well run.
Suzanne Connelly, of Lacombe, said she was pleased to see that nurses, while quick, didn’t make her feel rushed. “They take the time to talk to you and put you at ease.”
Connelly appreciated this because she often feels faint when getting a needle. This time, she described the experience as pretty “positive.”
“There was no tension or stress. It was very easy. There were no long line-ups and they deal with you nicely,” said Margaret DeVries, of Lacombe.
The only knock on the Westerner Park clinic is that its long ramps and distances can be hard for people with disabilities who may have walkers and wheelchairs to navigate, said Barb Sveinson, of Red Deer County. Her husband decided — after previewing the set-up on Wednesday — that he had better come along to help her out Thursday.
According to Alberta Health Services, the new clinic at the Westerner Park site provides COVID-19 swabbing as well as immunizations in different parts of the same location.
This has “enabled us to consolidate COVID-19 immunizations from the Johnstone Crossing Community Health Centre,” resulting in the ability to see an average of 1,000 clients per day.
“We can increase the number of immunization pods (booths) to double the capacity if needed, and as vaccine supply allows,” stated AHS.
Clients have time to prepare and review information about the vaccine while they wait in their pod for the nurses to arrive.
Two nurses, “an immunizer and scribe,” will bring pre-drawn syringes of vaccine to each pod. “Previously a nurse would complete all the documentation along with drawing and delivering the immunization; now the scribe completes the paperwork for the immunizer to review and sign, while they can focus on providing the shot,” states AHS.
Clients spend their post-vaccine waiting time in the same pod. Once they leave, cleaners sanitize the pod for the next person. According to AHS, this minimizes the amount of contact clients have in different parts of the building — reducing the amount of cleaning that’s needed.
In addition to the fast-flow model in Red Deer, AHS now has nine other immunization clinics established across the central Zone including in Camrose, Rocky Mountain House, Drayton Valley, Stettler, Drumheller, Vegreville, Wainwright, Consort and Kitscoty.