OAHHS Hospital Voice Spring/Summer 2021

7 Spring/Summer 2021 In the opening minutes of President Joe Biden’s first prime-time address to Congress, on the eve of his 100th day in office, the president praised the American people for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, calling their collective efforts “one of the greatest logistical achievements this country has ever seen.” The words “logistical achieve- ments”—which Biden repeated for emphasis—had a special reso- nance for many staff members of Salem Health Hospitals & Clinics, who had been through a sprint of a logistical steeplechase to set up the mass vaccination site at the Oregon State Fair & Expo Center in Salem. It was Oregon’s first such large-scale vaccination loca- tion and became a model for oth- ers, including the site at the Portland Convention Center. Since the Salem site’s opening on January 6, some 204,507 people have gotten their shots of a COVID-19 vaccine at the fair- grounds as of May 31. In addition to that impressive tally—the population of Salem itself is about 178,000—there have been thousands of vaccina- tions given at the smaller satellite sites, set up soon after the fair- grounds, to bring COVID-19 vaccines closer to home for more residents: Salem Health Polk County Vaccine Clinic at Western Oregon University, opened Janu- ary 11 (33,223), and the Salem Health Medical Clinic in Wood- burn, opened January 28 in part- nership with Marion County Health & Human Services (5,664). Then on March 18, Salem Health launched its Mobile Vaccine Team, borrowing a pair of shuttle buses to ferry vaccinations (7,939 by the end of May) to underserved communities such as seasonal agricultural workers and also to those living in more far-flung parts of Marion and Polk coun- ties, like Jefferson, Turner, and Falls City. The variety of names and places just mentioned is one indication of how logistical achievements have been a key to getting as many shots as possible into Ore- gonian arms. “I’ve never done anything like this in my career, that’s for sure, but we have a pandemic, so it calls for different thinking,” said Cheryl Nester Wolfe, president and CEO of Salem Health and a registered nurse for 47 years, whom many around the hospital credit with the vision for opening a mass vaccination site on a miniscule timeline. “This is the most impor- tant work I’ve ever done in my entire career,” Nester Wolfe said, echoing the sentiments of others who have been involved. “It is a very powerful and moving body of work, and I don’t know that I’ll ever have a job that’s as rewarding as this one,” said Josh Franke, chief project officer of Salem Health’s COVID Vaccine Program. Franke, who happens to have been born at Salem Hospital, had previously been director for several years of the Oncology Ser- vice Line. But, like many around the hospital, he found his job description being rewritten as the logistical race to establish, first, a mass vaccination site, and then satellite locations, got under way. Salem Health received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in mid-December. The first shot was given on December 17, followed by others to frontline healthcare workers. It was soon clear to Nester Wolfe and her team that in order to take the lead in vaccinating significantly larger numbers of people, Salem Health couldn’t simply swing open the hospital doors. continues  “It is a very powerful and moving body of work, and I don’t know that I’ll ever have a job that’s as rewarding as this one.” Josh Franke, Chief Project Officer of Salem Health’s COVID Vaccine Program