This episode and blog post are Part 2 of the final special report of our Vaccine Confidence Special Reports series on At the Core of Care. Over the course of three, two-part Special Reports, we have done a deep dive into three different facets of the COVID-19 vaccination effort: Workforce Development, Burnout, and nurse-led Vaccine Confidence programs. You may now listen to all 6 episodes on the PA-Action Coalition’s website, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
We are joined this episode by Dr. Garrett Chan, the President and CEO of HealthImpact, an organization that drives workforce development innovations within nursing. Dr. Chan also holds a PhD in Palliative Care and Emergency Nursing from the University of California San Francisco. Before joining HealthImpact, he was overseeing a new graduate residency program at Stanford Healthcare. Utilizing Dr. Chan’s background in both emergency preparedness and workforce development, HealthImpact has led two major nurse-led vaccine confidence initiatives during the pandemic: VaxForce and Trust a Nurse, Ask a Nurse.
In discussing the creation of these programs, Dr. Chan notes that he anticipated three main barriers to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccinations. He says, “The first one was going to be availability. There's something like 400 million people in the United States; not everybody's going to be able to get the vaccine immediately.” The second obstacle was not having enough personnel to administer the vaccine, and the third was vaccine hesitancy.
When vaccines became available in California, Dr. Chan led HealthImpact in launching VaxForce to address staffing challenges. VaxForce recruited an interdisciplinary team of skilled volunteers who could administer vaccinations. Dr. Chan says that many healthcare volunteers were drawn to the opportunity to have physical closeness to community members. Today, VaxForce has administered over 8,000 vaccines and has been especially successful in diverse communities. While they have scaled back their efforts, VaxForce still offers about three vaccination events per week.
Shortly after establishing VaxForce, HealthImpact started the Trust a Nurse, Ask a Nurse program. This program, which is also staffed by volunteer nurses, provides a telehealth platform where nurses discuss questions about the vaccine with community members and other healthcare providers. You can hear from one of the nurse volunteers who founded Trust a Nurse, Ask a Nurse, Lizett Leandro, in Part 1 of this Special Report.
Dr. Chan says that Trust a Nurse, Ask a Nurse began as a tool against vaccine hesitancy, the third major hurdle in the vaccine rollout. “For the people who are truly anti-vax, who really subscribe to the misinformation or disinformation, that was not the population that we were trying to reach. We were trying to reach the people who just had questions and were unsure and needed reassurance.” This virtual model has been highly successful, especially among breastfeeding parents and Spanish speaking patients.
HealthImpact is currently exploring ways to expand the Trust a Nurse, Ask a Nurse program beyond COVID vaccines. There are endless opportunities to provide telehealth education, but Dr. Chan is particularly interested in aging and dementia support, substance use disorder, and suicidality. Trust a Nurse, Ask a Nurse might even provide screening and pre-screening tests in the future. This unique fusion of emergency preparedness and workforce development can and will have diverse implications for the nursing workforce at large.
Nurses and other health professionals across the country are using innovative methods to vaccinate their communities against COVID-19. Learn more about their work by following us on Twitter and subscribing to our newsletter.
This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number NU50CK000580). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS, and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.