News

Samaritan Medical Center Runs Point of Dispensing (POD) Drill

Today, October 23, 2019, Samaritan Medical Center ran its annual Point of Dispensing (POD) Drill, practicing for a mass outbreak emergency while vaccinating hundreds of employees for the flu.

The drill, which began at 4:45 a.m. and continues through midnight, is conducted by Samaritan’s Employee Health Department and Emergency Management Committee. It brings together infection preventionists, resident physicians, medical students, and other Samaritan employees to practice and plan for an emergency that would require vaccines to be distributed quickly and efficiently to the community. Hospital employees – who, under NYS Public Health Law, must receive a flu shot or wear a surgical mask around patients during the influenza season – were able to get vaccinated for the flu during the drill.

“For the safety of our community, staff and patients, Samaritan must be ready for all scenarios,” said Karen Abare, Director of Infection Prevention and Control. “One way we do this is through drills, which allow us to test our policies and ensure everything runs smoothly. The start of the influenza vaccination season is a great opportunity for Samaritan to test this system and get as many employees as possible vaccinated at the same time.”

Roving vaccine carts were pushed through the hospital between 5:00 and 7:00 a.m. and from 10:30 p.m. to midnight, providing vaccines to staff who could not leave patient care areas. A vaccination hub was set up in the hospital’s Rotunda, allowing staff who could drop in to do so. Additionally, vaccination supplies were shipped to offsite locations, ensuring all staff were reached by the drill.

During last year’s POD Drill at Samaritan, more than 800 employees, volunteers, and medical staff were vaccinated. Totals from this year’s drill will not be available for a few days, but are expected to meet or exceed last year’s numbers.

“Each year we look for ways to improve and expand our outreach,” Abare said.

Samaritan reminds all patients that the best way to prevent the flu is to get your flu vaccine annually and practice good hand hygiene. Thousands of people in the U.S. die every year from the flu; in fact, an estimated 61,200 adults died from influenza in 2018-2019 flu season.