February 5, 2021
In an effort to expand local mass vaccination opportunities, Carroll College is partnering with Lewis and Clark Public Health, St. Peter’s Health, and PureView Health Center to serve as a drive-through point of distribution for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are eager to do what we can to assist Lewis and Clark County in protecting our residents from the formidable impacts of this virus,” said John Cech, president of Carroll College. “This is one of the most important partnerships Carroll College has ever entered. Having the ability to be a part of the solution for vaccine distribution and caring for the health of our community is directly in concert with our mission as a Catholic college.”
Currently, the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds has served as the only high-volume drive-through point of distribution (POD) for the rapid administration of COVID-19 vaccine. In preparation for the necessary expansion of vaccination efforts, beginning Thursday and Friday, February 11-12, Carroll’s Nelson Stadium will serve as a second, local, high-volume drive-through POD for the administration of vaccines.
Nelson Stadium will serve as a “Second Dose” drive-through clinic to complement the existing drive-through clinic located at the fairgrounds, which will now serve as a “First Dose” clinic. Carroll College will continue to serve as a second dose clinic throughout the spring and into the summer, as necessary.
“Our local COVID-19 Vaccine Planning Team is excited to announce an expansion of our partnership with Carroll College in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eric Merchant, division administrator for disease control and prevention, Lewis and Clark Public Health. “This strategy effectively doubles the county’s capacity to serve the community as vaccine supply allows. This collaborative effort represents a critical expansion of our capacity to serve and protect our community from the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.”
The vaccination POD at Carroll College continues to be a Lewis and Clark County and Vaccine Planning Team-led effort, with volunteer and infrastructure support provided by Carroll.
Carroll College’s Nursing, Public Health and Biology programs, as well as others at the college, will be instrumental in providing student and staff volunteers and support for vaccine administration, with preceptor oversight, as well as serving POD logistics, such as eligible participant screening, traffic control, and post vaccine monitoring.
“This is a tremendous educational opportunity for our students to be involved in such an important large-scale public health initiative,” said Cech. Carroll College has the second largest nursing program in Montana with 100% of their nursing graduates having passed the NCLEX RN in 2020.
“St. Peter’s Health celebrates the collaborative work that has gone into COVID-19 vaccine distribution in our community,” said Tom Richardson, PharmD, BCIDP, Clinical Pharmacy Manager at St. Peter’s Health. “The ability to involve the next generation of healthcare professionals and service-minded students in this historic mass vaccination and public health effort is exciting. It will benefit health care in our community for years to come.”
This partnership is a continuation of various collaborations Carroll College has had within the county throughout the course of the pandemic. Beginning last March, Carroll administrators have worked closely with LCPH officials in following their guidance in order to keep the Carroll College campus safe, healthy and in-person. Through a partnership with Shodair Children’s Hospital, Carroll has been able to voluntarily test all of their students weekly with a less than 24-hour turnaround time for results. This has greatly enabled the campus to manage any potential future outbreaks.
In addition, beginning last summer Carroll College’s biology faculty have been working with the City of Helena, the City of East Helena, and Lewis and Clark Public Health to test municipal wastewater samples for the presence and concentration of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. These measurements provide information on changes in total COVID-19 infection within the community and can serve as an early predictor of an increase in cases in the respective communities.
"Carroll College is honored to partner with Lewis and Clark Public Health, St. Peter's Health, PureView Health Center and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Van Program,” said Cech. “The successful teamwork for vaccine distribution being demonstrated by Lewis and Clark County continues to serve as an exemplary model for communities throughout the state and beyond. I am very proud to have Carroll be a part of the solution."