Pinellas County (FL) Implements Model Vaccination Programs for Skilled Nursing Facilities and Emergency Personnel

Join JEMS Editor Emeritus A.J. Heightman and Pinellas County, Florida, EMS/medical direction officials as they discuss model COVID vaccination programs implemented for emergency responders, skilled nursing home facility residents and staff.

Special JEMS “EMS TODAY SHOW”

Join JEMS Editor Emeritus A.J. Heightman and Pinellas County, Florida, EMS/medical direction officials as they discuss model COVID vaccination programs implemented for emergency responders and skilled nursing home facility (SNF) residents and staff.

Ulyee Choe, DO, director of the Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Pinellas County; Angus Jameson, MD, Pinellas County EMS medical director and Charles (Chuck) Walker, Pinellas County EMS clinical services coordinator responsible for quality assurance discuss the planning and implementation of these important programs.

Related: Emergency Considerations in COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

The Pinellas team developed a clinical protocol (DH) training program and all supporting materials in just four days once the first COVID vaccine was approved; delivered that training on days five and six; and gave the first shots on day eight. 

DOH-Pinellas was selected by the State of Florida as one of two counties to offer the first COVID-19 vaccines as part of the state’s pilot project. Broward County was the other Florida county selected.

DOH-Pinellas partnered with paramedics and the Florida National Guard to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to SNF residents and staff. The goal was to augment the efforts of the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to deliver vaccine to the long-term care facilities.

Pinellas is a county of one million population that has a large vulnerable population in its citizenry and large number of LTC residents and 68 skilled nursing facilities. In total, there are 250 ALF and SNFs in the county.

In a five-day mission, Pinellas County EMS Task Forces administered the vaccine to all 68 active nursing homes for a total of 6,678 (3,987 residents/2,691 staff).

Following that mission, Pinellas County offered the vaccine to Pinellas EMS and fire/rescue personnel; the first county to administer vaccine to the SNF residents and staff.

This special EMS Today show podcast discusses the planning, preparation and training that Dr Jameson, Dr. Choe, Chuck Walker and their team, which included DOH-nurses who provided exceptional hands-on training and assistance with each vaccination program, were able to accomplish through their intense efforts.

Special thanks to Dr. Jameson, Florida’s governor’s office, the Florida Office of EMS (Steve McCoy), Florida Emergency Management (EM) and Region 4 IMT (Andy Fossa), State EMS Medical Director (Dr. Ken Scheppke), Dr. Choe, Pinellas EMS leadership (Craig Hare), Pinellas EMS Training Coordinator Jazmin Solomon EMT-P MPH, Pinellas EMS Protocol and Equipment Coordinator David Hudak EMPT-P, Pinellas EMS Lead Instructor Lt. Steven Bailey EMT-P RN (Largo Fire Rescue) for making this model program happen and allowing JEMS to share their success story with you.  

The protocols and supporting documents are being shared with you from this model program so they can be adapted for your own system and get a similar campaign moving to vaccinate “our own” and save as many lives as possible.

JEMS encourages all EMS providers and leaders to educate themselves on the available vaccines, to be ready to make an informed decision for themselves, to serve as a resource for their families and friends, and to be leaders in the community as we deploy this new tool in our fight against COVID-19.

PDF Downloads

and

  • Fact Sheet for Recipients And Caregivers; Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) in individuals 18 years of age and older;
  • Notice of Privacy Practices;
  • Florida Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Consent Form

EMS Today Show Participants

A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P, Editor Emeritus of JEMS and the host of the EMS Today Show podcast.

 

 

Ulyee Choe, DO, is director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County

Dr. Ulyee Choe was appointed director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County in September 2015. He is board certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases and is currently an associate professor of medicine with the Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.

He is a graduate of the University of Florida where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and received a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University in 2005.

Dr. Choe completed his internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship at the University of South Florida in 2011. Prior to his appointment as the director in Pinellas, Dr. Choe served as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk as well as interim director of the Florida Department of Health in Hardee County.

Dr. Choe currently serves as chair of the statewide Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and HIV Prevention Committee, where he assisted with the expansion of STI results texting program and the implementation of Internet Partner Notification and Expedited Partner Therapy. He also functions as the co-chair of the Regional Preparedness Health and Medical Committee. 

At the DOH-Pinellas, he assisted with efforts to place a nurse in every school, expansion of the school-based dental sealant program, and implemented Health in All Policies with local municipalities. He grew up in Clearwater and is a Dunedin High School alumnus.

Dr. Angus Jameson is Pinellas County’s EMS medical director where he supports the work of nearly 1,900 EMTs and paramedics across 20 agencies who together protect a population of approximately one million people.

Dr. Jameson attended Albany Medical College, completed his residency training in emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and his EMS Fellowship at FDNY. 

Dr. Jameson is board certified in both Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services and is an affiliate assistant professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. 

In addition to his work with Pinellas County EMS, Dr. Jameson continues to practice hospital-based emergency medicine and is active in promoting regional advances in stroke, STEMI, opioid use disorder, and cardiac arrest care. He holds a master’s degree in public health and is currently serving as a primary medical advisor to Pinellas County officials on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In total, Dr. Jameson has over 20 years of practice in EMS with direct field experience at all levels from EMT-B to EMS Physician and encompassing private, fire-based, third service, public utility model and aeromedical settings. 

Charles (Chuck) Walker, is Pinellas County’s EMS clinical services coordinator responsible for quality assurance. This includes documentation, medical policy and clinical standards review for prehospital care providers with a 500 call a day volume.

Chuck began his EMS career in El Paso, Texas, where he worked from EMT to paramedic before moving to Chesapeake, Virginia. Here he worked as a firefighter/paramedic/hazmat technician/academy instructor. Chuck then relocated to Florida where he has worked for the last 11 years.

In addition to his work as a coordinator, Chuck sits on the First Pass Committee, the Quality Assurance Committee, and the EPCR Committee. He is also a CME instructor for BLS, ACLS, PHTLS and AMLS. In addition, he has also contributed to the county’s Medical Quality Manual and Medical Operations Manual.

Chuck has over 34 years of EMS experience encompassing field practice and clinical instruction at all levels from EMT to critical care paramedic including work in municipal 3rd service, fire department based, and private EMS settings.

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