CONCORD — The vaccine rollout in New Hampshire earlier this year raised equity concerns when some of the communities with the highest infection rates were having difficulty getting the vaccines. One seemingly invisible group throughout were homebound seniors, who are unable to go to event sites. Thanks to a pilot project designed by two employees at the Granite VNA, homebound Granite Staters gained access to the vaccine.

Lori Nash, director of compliance, privacy & security and Schelley Rondeau, pediatric and maternal child health nurse were named co-recipients of the Home Care & Hospice Service Award by the Home Care, Hospice, and Palliative Care Alliance of NH at their annual meeting last week for their work designing a home bound COVID vaccination pilot program. The pilot program became a model used throughout the region.

“No agency in New Hampshire had done anything like this before, and initially, the State offered no guidance,” said Gina Balkus, CEO of the Home Care, Hospice & Palliative Care Alliance of New Hampshire.

Packaging, transportation and the initial limited supply of the vaccine created hurdles for Lori and Schelley, but armed with spreadsheets and cell phones they were able to identify and track patients, research State and CDC requirements, obtain standing orders, navigate the multiple reporting systems, as well as create a “COVID Vaccine Kit” that included a special cooler, temperature gauge, syringes, needles, alcohol wipes, masks, prescreening questionnaires, and patient education materials. Key to preserving each vaccine vial, they created a standby list, so no vaccines were wasted. They also ensured that each patient got their necessary second doses.

The team beta-tested their program in Wolfeboro, NH to determine the average time for each home visit, and trouble shoot logical bottlenecks. They then expanded to other towns and graciously shared their expertise with home care agencies throughout New England.

“Lori and Schelley saw a need in the community, analyzed the problem, gathered the resources, and made it work,” said Alliance Board President and Cornerstone VNA CEO, Julie Reynolds. “Their spirit of collaboration resulted in over 5,000 vulnerable persons receiving home vaccinations throughout New Hampshire.”

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