Visiting Nurse Association working on vaccination plan for home, hospice care providers

Posted at 10:30 AM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 11:30:47-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More health care workers are getting the vaccinations needed to fight COVID-19.

But for in-home and hospice health care workers, who also care for some of the most vulnerable people, they're not on the top of that list.

President of the Visiting Nurse Association - Kansas City, Brad Evans said the distribution chain in getting the vaccine has done fairly well. However, he said it's been somewhat disjointed when it comes to getting the vaccine to health care providers who work inside homes.

"When you talk about front line health care workers, there's a large group of health care workers that are in the home health, the hospice, private duty, and Medicaid in-home programs that are front line workers but don't necessarily belong to a hospital system," Evans said. "And so most of the hospital systems in Missouri have received the vaccine and have been able to distribute that and administer those vaccinations to their staff. But there is a lot of health care workers in the state of Missouri, in the state of Kansas, who have not had that opportunity to be vaccinated."

The VNA - Kansas City is working with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care, the VNA of St. Louis and the VNA of Southeast Missouri to develop vaccination clinic plans, in an effort to get more of those health care workers vaccinated.

"We're developing a vaccination plan, so that we can mobilize as quickly as possible, set up vaccination clinics in our respective organizations to help vaccinate other home health and hospice private duty and in-home care providers," Evans said.

He said it's been a monumental task, where they've shifted gears to make this happen.

"That's not what we do every day. What we do every day is provide services in the home health and hospice space, and it's not creating these large vaccination clinics," Evans explained. "But we have shifted gears from an administration standpoint, to try and get those resources together, so that we can provide those vaccinations to that subset of health care workers that seem to have been left out."

Evans said the biggest challenge is wading through all of the red tape.

"We have the storage capabilities," Evans said. "So it's getting to the right people, in the right department at the state to get all those approvals in place so that we can administer the vaccine. And honestly, I think that's probably been the biggest source of our frustration is getting to that point. But we do feel like we're almost there."

As of Thursday morning, the VNA of Kansas City was able to finalize their approval with the state and have placed their first order of 1,000 doses.

While there is no guarantee of fulfillment, it is possible they could be administering vaccines to area health care workers as soon as next week. Until then, they'll be waiting for those doses to come to help the health care community.

"Then we'll have about 10 days to administer however many doses that we have requested," Evans said. "We're prepared logistically to request 1,000 doses every other week so that we can start vaccinating folks."

He said looking at the long term, if they can make the vaccination clinics work for the health care workforce, they're hoping to look at an option to open up a clinic where they can do it for the general public as well.