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COVID-19 Vaccine Equity: Engaging Johns Hopkins Personnel

Published: May 24, 2021

Johns Hopkins Medicine is committed to providing vaccine information and access to all personnel

a Johns Hopkins employee administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another employee

A Johns Hopkins employee receives the COVID-19 vaccine at one of the onsite vaccine locations.

From the front lines to behind the scenes, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s diverse group of personnel has worked tirelessly to help inform, treat and protect our patients, visitors and colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic. As essential members of the overall COVID-19 response, the staff members were among the first groups of people eligible to receive the vaccine, and Johns Hopkins quickly mobilized to administer vaccines to those who wanted them.

Initially, vaccine supply was extremely limited, and Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) had very little insight about how much it would receive on a weekly basis from the government. Considering these challenges, a methodical approach was taken to provide the vaccine to personnel with the supply available.

JHM, through the health care system-wide incident command center, and with the advice of various diversity councils and the scarce allocation committee, has continued to work diligently to reach personnel across their various roles to ensure that they have comprehensive vaccine information and access. MyChart, an electronic health record system, is leveraged. Initially, MyChart was used frequently to inform personnel when new vaccine appointments were available through a ticketing system. Now, with more available vaccine supply, personnel can self-schedule their vaccinations on MyChart.

To help encourage the use of MyChart by personnel who don’t have regular email access, MyChart activation and support stations were established in high traffic areas of facilities so that personnel whose work is not computer-based could get help securing appointments. These MyChart activation stations also offered an opportunity to learn more about the various roles colleagues play in this pandemic response, and those who staffed them offered encouragement and comradery.

“Some employees didn’t feel they were involved in direct patient care, and therefore shouldn’t get an early vaccine, so we helped them walk through the impact of their day-to-day work,” says Ebony Colina, an Epic applications supervisor and a member of the diversity council. Colina helped staff the MyChart stations. “We made sure to show everyone that each of us plays an important role that helps support the overall mission of delivering care. You are not ‘just’ a food services person. You’re an important part of enabling patient care, and every essential role matters.”

Johns Hopkins also held COVID-19 Vaccine Employee Zoom Town Halls, featuring Johns Hopkins expert physicians and other leaders. The town halls focused on issues that impact minority populations. Two were conducted in Spanish. Also, videos were created about vaccine equity and COVID-19 disparities, vaccine science and vaccine trial demographics, featuring minority physician leaders to help build trust about the vaccine and address areas of concern.

Personnel teams have widely different job responsibilities, from providing care for patients to ensuring the security of facilities and managing food services. Not all employees work behind a computer desk or are comfortable navigating technology. Knowing that personnel receive information in different ways, multiple means of communication were developed — including signs, infographics, a robust dedicated internal website with easy access to policies, data and guidelines, and other resources to help provide critical information to staff. One-page documents with QR codes that staff members could scan from their mobile devices provided weekly talking points for personnel during their regular shift meetings.

“We are incredibly grateful to our team that has worked tirelessly over the past year in response to the pandemic,” says Gabor Kelen, director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response. “And, we knew we needed to make an assertive effort to help address the issues amongst our personnel that were inhibitory toward being vaccinated, whether based in hesitancy or access. When there’s an entire group of our own personnel that doesn’t or can’t readily use our technology, it’s important to level the playing field and reach out to them in ways that fit within their daily routines.”

To help engage staff, Johns Hopkins Medicine connected with the leadership of environmental services, patient transport, food services, security, materials management, facilities, pharmacy, home care and supply chain, and offered leaders information to educate their staff members. Enthusiastic and well-informed personnel were appointed as health advocates and vaccine champions. They helped share messages about vaccine availability and the processes for getting vaccinated, as well as answer questions, during regular shift meetings.

As leaders continued to talk to personnel, they heard that it would be helpful for people to see colleagues they know get the vaccine. To accomplish this, and to demonstrate why staff members decided to get vaccinated, photo galleries and videos were developed that gave personnel the opportunity to speak personally and candidly about what the vaccine means to them and why they got vaccinated. The powerful videos were shared across the health care institution.

“It is critical to provide our personnel with up-to-date information, in ways they can access it within in their roles, so they can make an informed choice about their health care options,” says Carole Martens, director of facilities compliance for the health system. “We remain committed to ensuring that all of our essential team members know what COVID-19 resources, including vaccines, are available to them.”

Now that vaccines are more available, Johns Hopkins Medicine is creating pop-up and mobile clinics throughout the Johns Hopkins hospital system to reach personnel who have not received a vaccine. The Turner Auditorium vaccine clinic is also open for walk-in vaccinations on Thursdays and Fridays.

Johns Hopkins Medicine is excited to provide lifesaving vaccines to its personnel. And JHM will continue to do everything it can to ensure that those who want a vaccine can get one. All personnel deserve thanks for all they has done for Johns Hopkins’ patients, communities and, importantly, one another as we preserve through this pandemic.

For more information about JHM’s personnel outreach, visit the internal website here. For comprehensive information about COVID-19 vaccines, please visit here.

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