Operation: Vaccination – NorthBay Team Does Its Part to Battle Pandemic

Thousands Receive Their Pfizer Doses at Clinics, Drive-throughs

Blagica Laboska, LVN at NorthBay Healthcare, fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine at the Solano County mass vaccination clinic in Vallejo.

It started with a couple of physicians, a handful of nurses and a respiratory therapist boldly rolling up their sleeves and receiving the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at NorthBay Medical Center early one morning in December 2020.

Fast forward many months later and NorthBay Healthcare’s versatile team has vaccinated more than a quarter of eligible residents in Solano County. That includes 42,000-plus doses to patients and community partners; 4,300-plus doses to staff; and thousands of doses at pop-up clinics from Rio Vista to Benicia. In addition, in partnership with other health care organizations, NorthBay helped administer more than 100,000 doses at the Solano County Fairgrounds by May 31. 

It was no easy feat.

Just ask Ryan Seo, NorthBay’s director of Pharmacy Services. 

“First NorthBay had to secure a special ultra-low temperature freezer to store the vaccine. Once we were able to accept deliveries, we had to sign up staff, starting with our most vulnerable front-line workers.”

It took a planning team of about 25, headed by Ryan, Pharmacy Clinical Practice Manager Dan Ford, Director of Quality Stephanie Tarter and many more to get it started.

Members of NorthBay Pharmacy Services pose for a photo with a cardboard cutout of Dr. Anthony Fauci during one of NorthBay’s Saturday clinics at the VacaValley Wellness Center.

When it came time for patients in January — starting with those age 70 and up — Damaris Valera, assistant vice president of Primary Care and Rachelle Hunter, Center for Primary Care practice manager took over the Green Valley Administration Conference Center and kicked the clinics into high gear. Her team partnered with pharmacy staff, medical assistants, patient representatives and students from area colleges to create 12 vaccination stations and a steady flow of patients five days a week, and even on some weekends. Clinics ran from January through the end of April.

“I think I can speak on behalf of the entire team in saying I wouldn’t change anything in terms of the experience we went through,” Damaris said. “It’s something we’ll never relive but being a part of it has shaped how we live and look at things.”

The payoff came from the patients, many of whom made it a point to stop by her desk and let her know how impressed they were. 

Shannon McCoulf injects the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into the arm of William Avila during a drive-through vaccination clinic.

“They were so grateful and emotional to where some were even crying they were so relieved to get the vaccination,” she said. “It was very gratifying.”

About the time the Green Valley team was starting to wind down in March, the Pharmacy team was just getting started, piloting walk-in and drive-through clinics in Vacaville, starting with some of NorthBay’s most vulnerable patients at the NorthBay Cancer Center. It was such a success, the pharmacy team continued to offer drive-through clinics, which eventually opened to the general public (ages 12 and up) through May. 

NorthBay moved to offering vaccinations at its NorthBay Center for Primary Care facilities in Vacaville, Fairfield and Green Valley, and during weekday Coumadin clinics. 

“MyTurn.Ca.GOV has made it really easy to get a vaccine,” said Ryan. “The goal now is to make it as convenient as possible, so anyone who has still not received the vaccine and wants one can get it done easily.”

Ryan said the next vaccine challenges will be flu clinics, and a potential booster for the Pfizer vaccine, which seems likely.

“We have so much experience under our belt now that I’m confident we’ll be able to efficiently handle whatever comes our way,” said Ryan. “And that’s good news for our patients and our community.” 

Top: Tina Brazil, R.N., vaccinates Leslie Williams of Vacaville at the Solano County Fairgrounds mass vaccination site. Left: Clinical Pharmacist Tatum Urrutia (left) and Call Center Patient Services Rep. Marie Branson show off a poster encouraging patients to take a selfie with Dr. Fauci once they’ve received their vaccine. Right: Vacaville Fire Chief Kris Conception receives his vaccine from Cathy Zadnik, M.A.

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