Carefirst target their vaccination efforts

14 Sep 2021
Carefirst target their vaccination effortsFrom left to right: Karina Putt - receptionist, Wendy Hayton - practice nurse, Colleen Graham - receptionist, Dr Yu-Ching Yu - GP, Dr Kiyomi Kitagawa - GP, Kayla Archer - health care assistant.

Alongside delivering vaccinations to all those who are eligible, the team at Carefirst have been hard at work to target vaccination opportunities where they can be of most benefit.

“It started with an idea from our Pinnacle GP liaison Katy Smith,” says GP and part owner Dr Kiyomi Kitagawa. “When lockdown was announced Katy quickly realised it would be helpful to proactively contact employers of essential workers and approached us to see if we could increase our capacity for vaccinations to make it happen.”

While the Pinnacle team hit the phones, Carefirst staff geared up to deliver more vaccinations, liaising with the DHB to ensure they could source extra vaccines.

“The DHB really came to the party to support our idea, and the response from the employers we contacted was amazing - they were so happy to be thought of,” says Kiyomi.

Carefirst worked alongside several resthomes, supermarkets, NZ Post, Methanex and vet clinics. They then put on their thinking caps to think who else they could proactively approach and with essential worker’s children returning to school at Level 3, they decided early childhood education centres and schools would be worth contacting.

“Teachers are not on an essential list, but logic tells me it is a good place to make an impact,” says Kiyomi. “We can’t yet vaccinate our young tamariki, so this is one more way we can help protect them and our wider community.”

Working with employers has been a really rewarding experience for Carefirst. Businesses have been keen to help, with employers helping to schedule appointments and adjust work commitments so people could get over to the practice. This was often achieved within really short timeframes, with the Carefirst team sometimes liaising with employers in the evening for vaccination appointments the following morning.

“NZ Post were fantastic to work with, we gave them the timeframes and they managed everything at their side, liaising with their staff to see who needed to be vaccinated and managing all the bookings themselves. It was really uplifting to see the care and mahi employers were willing to put in.”

Essential workers are not the only priority targets this team have their keen eye on. The group of three practices, Carefirst, Merrilands and Motorua decided early on in their vaccination efforts it was critical to reach out to their Māori and Pacific patients, inviting them to come and be vaccinated. Each GP was given a list of patients to contact by text, email and phone calls. Being contacted by their own GP helped increase engagement with these priority groups.

“It’s been really rewarding getting on the phone and being able to help people with this decision – I know it won’t be an easy one for some to make,” says Kiyomi. “Once you are chatting you can talk through concerns or questions on the spot, dispel the misinformation out there and then usually book not just the person you are speaking with but their whole whānau and household to come in.”

Key to the success of working with patients in this way is holding some bookings aside to ensure an appointment can be offered quickly, usually within the next day or two.

“It wouldn’t be fair to call people up and help them with such a great decision, but not be able to offer a booking for weeks.”

Carefirst have delivered over almost 3,000 vaccinations now. They usually deliver 100-150 vaccinations per day, with the biggest day to date reaching 302 vaccinations. Vaccination clinics are being held six days a week including Saturdays, with evening clinics being offered from mid-September – and even out of lockdown, as they resume much more or their usual face-to-face work, they’ll maintain the capacity to scale up and add extra clinics in for priority groups.

Anyone wishing to book for a vaccination with a Carefirst practice can contact them by phone.

Carefist Westown (06) 753 9505
Carefirst Merrilands (06) 758 8773
Moturoa Medical Centre (06) 751 0390