Five days out of the week, Koret Health and Recreation Center’s basketball courts are teeming with people, but they’re not there to get a game in — instead they are receiving coronavirus vaccines.
Kaiser Permanente, which previously used Koret’s parking lot to run a flu shot clinic in the fall and early winter, is the medical provider is utilizing USF’s gym as the site for their new COVID-19 vaccine clinic. The gym-turned-clinic, which opened Feb. 8, is partially staffed by both nursing and non-nursing USF students.
The Koret clinic administers, on average, between 250-350 doses of vaccine a day for Kaiser members and is currently vaccinating patients in Phase 1A and 1B of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccination plan. These groups include people over the age of 75, frontline workers, long-term care facility residents, and healthcare personnel.
More than nine million Californians have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, with 225,000 doses having been administered in San Francisco county alone.
On average, 10 non-nursing student employees help with routine tasks such as checking in guests for their appointments, taking temperature readings and symptom screenings, and walking patients through the vaccination process.
Senior performing arts and social justice major Kalan Birnie has been working at the clinic since its opening. “I am not someone who expected I would ever enjoy working in the healthcare field. I’m bad with needles, I get kind of anxious around blood or any of that kind of thing, but I have had a great experience working with the staff there,” he said. “There’s not a ton of condescension between Kaiser employees and the students. They pretty much treat everyone as equals.”
Though the clinic is primarily staffed with Kaiser’s own employees and registered nurses, some nursing students who were left without clinical placements in hospitals have been helping to fill out the rest of the clinic’s staff. Student nurses shadow Kaiser employees to learn how to prepare and administer vaccines. These students usually come in once a week, on their clinical days. These nursing students are also required to go through training, including a COVID-19 educational program — one course on immunization best practices and another on the difference between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — and attend sessions on the impact of COVID-19 on public health.
Junior nursing student Joseph Blinder and his clinical group administer vaccines and are scheduled to return every week for the remainder of the semester. Commenting on the experience, Blinder said, “It was amazing. I enjoyed giving the vaccines. It’s a big place and they have it running very smoothly. ”
The Koret clinic is vastly different from the normal clinical sites that nursing students are normally stationed at. As a junior in his second semester, a student like Blinder would normally be working at a hospital in a medical-surgical rotation.
Blinder said he feels the clinic is much more of an in-and-out process with each patient. “Here at the clinic, I only have about five minutes with a patient. They come in and I go over the questionnaire. I ask about allergies, I verify their date of birth, and then I administer the shot. I give them some paperwork afterwards, and their vaccination card, and that’s it.”
Editor’s Note: Kalan Birnie is a former staff member of the Foghorn.