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UofL plays large part in Louisville Metro flu clinic

by UofL Today last modified Nov 16, 2009 11:13 AM

Would you like an H1N1 vaccination?

UofL plays large part in Louisville Metro flu clinic

The line for drive-through shots was long.

Chances are, if you were one of the nearly 20,000 people who got their H1N1 vaccination Nov. 11 or 12 at Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness' inoculation clinic, a University of Louisville student not only asked you that question but also gave it to you.

UofL's participation in the clinic likely was the largest volunteer effort in university history. Not only did the university offer the use of several parking lots at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, university personnel were heavily involved in planning the clinic, and some 375 students, faculty and staff members worked the event, arriving as early as 6 a.m. each day in preparation for the 8 a.m. opening.

"I'm incredibly proud of how we have responded to the city's request for help and for the professional, caring way our faculty, staff and students handled this huge task," said Shirley Willihnganz, executive vice president and university provost.

Nursing students and faculty made up the majority of volunteers with more than 250 participating. They staffed 10 drive-through bays and administered the vaccine to children and adults.

"This was a great learning experience, and a good feeling to be part of such a large effort in keeping the community healthy," said Erika Wooldridge, a senior nursing student.

Workers from the School of Medicine, School of Public Health and Information Sciences and Speed School also played a major role in the effort.

Medical students reviewed patient consent forms, decided on patient eligibility for either the shot or nasal mist and administered vaccine.

"This was a great opportunity to work with a diverse population of patients," said med school student Amber Zimmer. "Being able to comfort these patients and have an understanding with them during the clinic reminds us why we decided to become doctors - to help people."

The volunteers were overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic about their participation, said Ruth Carrico, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences who had oversight for training and medical protocol for the clinic.

But there was more to pulling off the successful clinic than administering the vaccine.

  • UofL also helped the health department work out a myriad of details that included just about everything from tent and port-o-potty rentals to traffic issues and trash pick-up.
  • A UofL Department of Environmental Health and Safety team, headed by department director Cheri Hildreth and assistant director Dennis Sullivan, worked practically non-stop on planning.
  • SPHIS graduate students Pretesh Parmar and Caitlin Shelton worked under the direction of Sullivan and Carrico on the scene to keep track of and manage the details. Before the event, they and Speed School exchange student Thomas van de Kracht tested the logistics. Under the direction of Sunderesh Heragu, they created a virtual model of the operation at the school's Logistics and Distribution Institute to test traffic patterns and throughput and to calculate needed supplies and personnel.
  • Center for Health Hazards Preparedness staff Kelly Willis and Alyssa Middleton coordinated volunteer efforts, vaccine handling and the consent form process.
  • Thirty UofL police and security officers under the direction of Maj. John Schafer, commander of operations, teamed up with officers from other units in the metropolitan area to help with security and with community traffic going to the vaccine clinic and with student traffic parking in close proximity at the stadium.

"We are extremely grateful for UofL's help at the H1N1 immunization clinics on Nov. 11 and 12. The clinics would not have been possible without UofL," said Adewale Troutman, director, Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

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