In the Media
West County Health Centers (WCHC) recently pivoted toward scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations through direct outreach instead of open self-registration to effectively prioritize groups most at-risk.
As of Feb. 24, WCHC has conducted 5,600 vaccinations since they began, counting 313 second doses, and will deliver 3,200 doses this week if the supply allows, a press release from WCHC said.
The state’s move to integrate Blue Shield as its third-party administrator for vaccine distribution also led to the switch to direct outreach. WCHC is testing out Blue Shield’s appointment tool, MyTurn, this week and will start up with Blue Shield alongside Sonoma County’s other federally qualified health centers on March 7, the press release said.
Jason Cunningham, a doctor and WCHC’s chief executive officer, said the center made the shift last Wednesday, when they would normally post appointment openings for the upcoming Monday through Saturday after receiving their vaccine shipments from Sonoma County.
“This effort in Sonoma County should be the model for the nation in how to organize and vaccinate essential ag and production workers,” said Dr. Jason Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer at West County Health Centers. He added, ”We have succeeded because of the tremendous collaboration throughout the community from people and organizations who share one focus to quickly and efficiently immunize our essential food and agricultural workers to reduce their risk of becoming ill.”
West County Health Centers is taking an approach similar to Sutter’s. Chief Executive Jason Cunningham said the nonprofit is short three boxes of vaccine doses this week. They have been administering roughly 250 first doses a day at their clinics at Analy High School and Guerneville School, and were set to add 250 second doses to that this week.
“Instead, we are only vaccinating the 250 second doses and holding on to new doses until we get assurance of sufficient supply,” Cunningham said.
West County Health Centers is vaccinating about 250 people a day at clinics at Guerneville School and Analy High School. The health center is reserving about 50 slots daily for food production and ag workers.
In a couple weeks, the health center hopes to double its vaccine supply and then inoculate 500 people a day, including 100 vulnerable essential workers, said Jason Cunningham, CEO of West County Health Centers.
To attract that number of people for shots, the organization plans to rely on its relationships with community organizations and businesses, Cunningham said.
“It’s not just us doing it ourselves, we’re partnering with others,” he said, citing Graton Day Labor Center and Korbel Winery, among others.
Vaccines Going Local – Sonoma County
ABC 7 News with Wayne Freedman interviews Dr. Rain Moore at West County Health Centers Community Vaccination Site at Analy High School on Monday, February 8th, 2021 for the evening news.
“We’re leveraging deep relationships in our community, working with businesses to bring workers into those sites, working with churches,” said Dr. Jason Cunningham, CEO of West County Health Centers. “We’re finally getting our systems in place to be able to act locally with equity as a driving principle.”
On Friday, West County Health Centers held a vaccine clinic at Guerneville School for people 75 and older, health care workers and farmworkers, including dozens who labor in the vineyards.
Key players in the county’s effort to get more vaccine doses into the arms of essential workers are community health centers, a robust network of primary care providers that for decades have served low-income residents, many of them Latino.
“For example, West County Health Centers is now providing vaccine to individuals performing agriculture, farm and field work collecting and processing agriculture products including dairy, egg, poultry, and meat production, as well as individuals involved in the production of food or beverages including wineries and distilleries. This does not include administrative or sales staff within these industries,” Hopkins said.
West County Health Centers identified that problem on its platform immediately when it began to set up vaccination clinics at Guerneville School and Analy High School this week. The group is using a platform designed by the state Department of Public Health.
Sensing a brewing mess, CEO Jason Cunningham and his staff used their own algorithm to check on the eligibility of those had signed up for the clinics. They found that of the 250 people who had signed up for the first day of shots, close to 80 were ineligible. The health group called every single one of them and explained the situation, expending many hours of labor in the process.
Cunningham worries about the ramifications of the stilted process.
“Relationship is our primary product in health care,” he said. “Particularly in primary care. If we lose the trust of our community, we undermine the trust of health care.”
In partnership with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Sonoma County Office of Education, 5th District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, and other community leaders, West County Health Centers will open two community vaccination sites in western Sonoma County, one located at Guerneville Elementary School and the other at Analy High School in Sebastopol. WCHC will be following the tiered system of distribution as put forth by state and federal guidelines. For information on the tiers, please visit the Sonoma County Emergency Services page.
West County Health Centers’ goal is to offer as many vaccinations as possible, depending on available supply. Timing of sites and how many appointments are available for each day will depend on the weekly vaccine distribution from the County.
“With our dedicated WCHC staff, volunteers, and community partners we plan to open our community vaccination sites with a goal to optimize our resources to deliver the maximum rate of vaccinations per day/hour possible,” WCHC leaders said in a press release.