Prescott's COVID19 Vaccine Clinic Set Goals High - Northern Arizona VA Health Care System
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Northern Arizona VA Health Care System


Prescott's COVID19 Vaccine Clinic Set Goals High

Veteran Ernest Carrilo walking into the Mobile Vaccine Clinic to receive his COVID-19 shot

Veteran Ernest Carrilo walking into the Mobile Vaccine Clinic to receive his COVID-19 vaccine in Cottonwood, AZ.

By Mary Dillinger (photos provided by Tim Howe and Kirk Wright)
Monday, May 10, 2021

When it came time to prepare to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, Prescott VA staff stepped-up to the challenge of vaccinating as many Veterans and staff as possible. NAVAHCS serves more than 29,500 Veterans and employs more than 1,100 employees. 

“Our COVID-19 vaccine clinic opened the week of Christmas 2020, the very day the vaccine arrived on station,” said Jean Gurga, NAVAHCS director. “This was possible due to the tremendous work from staff throughout all areas of our hospital.”  Employees from the Incident Command Team, pharmacy, primary care, facilities management, supply chain management, information technology, health administration services, social work, public affairs, executive leadership and of course the amazing nurses and clinical staff. “It was truly a team effort,” said Gurga.

Then, the first week in January, they were able to reach rural Veterans located at NAVAHCS geographically diverse Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) - leading the way for VAMCs nationwide to provide vaccines at local VA clinics. 

“It took a lot of planning, preparing, and traveling to ensure that our CBOCs were ready to receive and administer the vaccine,” said Gurga.  “Our outstanding employees tirelessly worked to get the vaccine clinics up and running at each of our 5 clinics located in Anthem, Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Kingman, and Lake Havasu.”    

Communication has been key throughout the entire process said James Johnson, MD, MSEd, NAVAHCS Associate Chief of Staff for Education, Research & Development. Johnson has been essential in the execution of the Prescott VA’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics. 

“We held meetings with our team twice a week to ensure all of the required tasks were being completed in a timely manner and everyone knew their responsibilities,” said Johnson. “None of this would have been possible without the incredible team we have here at NAVAHCS. I am constantly amazed that even when pushed, the answer was always, ‘okay we will get it done.’” 

Johnson states they also partnered with the Dr. Cameron K. McKinley Vet Venter to set-up a Mobile Vaccination Clinic at their Cottonwood CBOC. “We used the Vet Center Mobile Vehicle and coordinated with our community to schedule Veterans and staff for their vaccines,” said Johnson. “It was a success and a great collaboration with our local Prescott Vet Center.” 

The past year has been a challenge for everyone and the NAVAHCS team persevered with a great attitude going above and beyond each and every day.  "In just four months, our team has administered more than 20,000 vaccines to Veterans and staff,” said Gurga.  “It isn’t over yet and our team continues to work hard each day to achieve our goal of vaccinating all Veterans, spouses, caregivers and staff who wish to receive the vaccine.”


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