Barton holds upbeat, successful mass vaccination clinic for South Tahoe residents

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Barton Health, in partnership with the El Dorado County Public Health Department, on Friday administered vaccines to high risk, 65 and older individuals based on the California’s tiered, age-based system for vaccination distribution.

The drive through clinic was held at Lake Tahoe Community College. Community members received their first doses and will receive their second at a follow up clinic on March 19.

In support of the county’s vaccination effort, Barton received an allotment of 1,600 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. By lunchtime on Friday, nurses and medical assistants had administered approximately 700 vaccines through the drive through lanes.

Inside LTCC’s doors, viles of vaccine were stored in powered coolers.

Jeff Koeck, director of pharmacy, extracts Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from a vile. Cheyanne Neuffer / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Community members who were eligible for the vaccine, and reside in Barton’s service area, were identified from Barton’s electronic health record through MyChart and were alerted in both English and Spanish. There were 6,000 community members in Barton’s database that received the notice along with 800 additional individuals the county identified in the South Lake Tahoe region that were eligible.

All 1,244 individuals who responded before to the notice in time were given an appointment for Friday.

After clinic, there were 50 additional thawed doses to which Barton called and administered to eligible community members. Just one vaccine was wasted at the end of the day.

During the clinic, energy from staff, volunteers and patients were positive and hopeful as cars quickly went through the lines and vaccines were administered. Patients entered the line signed consent forms and then were greeted and screened by a nurse. After screening, cars were ushered through the line where individuals received their vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines ready to be administered on Friday. Cheyanne Neuffer / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Each patient, after receiving the vaccination, waited in the observation area for 15-30 minutes depending on health history.

“We are on track to vaccinate everyone who is scheduled,” said Barton Public Information Officer Mindi Befu. She also said that the entire day was filled with enthusiasm and hope.

Volunteer check-in line Friday at the clinic. Cheyanne Neuffer / Tahoe Daily Tribune

“Standing up this clinic to vaccinate more than 1,250 community members has been a very rewarding experience. It’s taken an immense amount of effort,” Befu said. “This clinic could not have happened without the incredible support of so many people and organizations. LTCC continues to offer it’s site and staff to support the health of our community throughout this pandemic. Together we truly are making a difference for our community.”

One local who received his vaccine and was waiting in the observation section, Russell Tain, said that his experience was great and the vaccination process went smoothly. He was notified earlier in the day by Barton that he could come early. Tain got through the line and observed before his actual appointment was even scheduled.

Tain was very excited to have the vaccine ao he can see his family again and travel.

“I haven’t seen my mom in over a year,” Tain said.

During the clinic, the sixth lane in the parking lot at LTCC was still being used for those receiving a COVID-19 test.

South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue waiting by observation section of the drive through line. Cheyanne Neuffer / Tahoe Daily Tribune

“Throughout the pandemic LTCC has been committed to help respond to COVID in our community,” said Lake Tahoe Community College President/Superintendent Jeff DeFranco. “Being the facility host for this clinic is another step in our efforts to serve the South Shore community during this challenging time.”

Barton had several employees working at the clinic, including CEO Clint Purvance, who was happily greeting cars as they went through the line.

“We are so excited to have this for our community and for those who are high risk, many of whom have conditions that put them more at risk for severe illness.” Purvance said.

He added that it was great to see so many people he knows, who are friends in the community, at the clinic.

Purvance said that while they have never done a mass vaccination clinic before, he was proud of his team for pulling it together within five working days.

“Our goal is to get as many shots in arms as possible,” he said. “Our team is doing a great job from an execution standpoint.”

While the clinic ran smoothly, cars did create a morning backup on Al Tahoe Blvd., which cleared up around noon.

Cars filing through vaccination lines. Cheyanne Neuffer / Tahoe Daily Tribune

There were a few patients that Purvance said had minor reactions that could be attributed to anxiety and one person was admitted into the emergency room to be examined. Purvance said that it is common with this increased number of people getting vaccinated at one time and that he anticipated one or two that would need to be monitored at the hospital.

South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, Lake Valley Fire Protection District and Cal Tahoe JPA waited near the observation area to ensure patients had medical attention if need be.

Barton is looking at potentially having more clinics in the near future as more state based tiers open.

Purvance said, “This is a great day for Tahoe.”