During an AHA virtual briefing for lawmakers and staff, leaders from three health systems – Trinity Health, Ascension and LifePoint Health, which serve communities all across the country – today shared their organizations’ experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as recommendations to improve efforts to get more people vaccinated as safely, quickly and equitably as possible.
“This vaccination initiative is the greatest public health need of our lifetime and it will only be successful if hospitals and health systems continue to lean into the enormous public health void and partner with state and local governments and health departments,” said Michael Slubowski, president and CEO of Trinity Health, which has administered vaccines in the 22 states where it serves patients and communities. “To do this, it’s essential that health systems and government collaborate.”
All of the panelists spoke about the need to increase certainty and transparency into the vaccine supply chain.
“We have no idea day-to-day or week-to-week when vaccines are coming,” said Joe Cacchione, M.D., executive vice president of clinical and network services of Ascension, which provides care in 19 states and the District of Columbia. “We need to establish a national blueprint for states and health departments that offer consistent pathways for health care systems to partner and contribute to vaccine efforts.”
Other recommendations from the health system leaders included working to close gaps and ensure equitable access to vaccines; strengthening public and private partnerships; and embracing education and public health campaigns with consistent, science-based messaging.
“The federal government can help support all of these efforts by providing additional funding for vaccine coordination, outreach, education and collaboration,” said Christopher Rehm, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for LifePoint Health, which operates 88 hospital campuses in 29 states.