Flexing arms, big smiles, and happy tears are what you’ll likely see from those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination in one of UI Health Care’s vaccine clinics.
But what isn’t as visible are the late nights, weekends, and countless meetings that the members of the COVID-19 vaccine team have endured to make it all possible. And at the helm of that team is Mike Brownlee, PharmD, MS, chief pharmacy officer for UI Health Care.
Back in September 2020, no COVID-19 vaccines had yet been authorized, but Brownlee and colleague Jennifer Miller, MPH, MHA, assistant director for support services, were already hard at work planning for the vaccine rollout.
“Somewhere around Labor Day is when the COVID-19 employee vaccination plan began to take shape,” says Brownlee. “Jenn and I have overseen the employee flu vaccination campaign for the last six years and that experience translated really well.”
Connecting the dots
While planning continued, Brownlee joined the Iowa Infectious Disease Advisory Council (IDAC) with the recommendation of Jorge Salinas, MD.
“I wasn’t a voting member of IDAC, but I was included as an ad hoc member to help them operationally understand how the vaccine would be administered and managed,” says Brownlee.
In this role, Brownlee provided information and direction to the council so they were better equipped to make informed and educated decisions regarding administration of the vaccine across the state.
“I was able to provide consultation on how Iowa would plan and proceed through the various tiers: Phases 1a, 1b, and 1c,” says Brownlee. “I was grateful for the opportunity to help IDAC be better informed about how the vaccination would actually work, and to Dr. Salinas for plugging me in.”
A constant effort
As the COVID-19 employee vaccination campaign was launched within UI Health Care, Brownlee took on additional responsibilities working with Johnson County Public Health (JCPH) to help guide vaccination efforts throughout the surrounding community.
As influential and involved as Brownlee is with the COVID-19 vaccine campaign, he’s the first to give all credit to the dedicated teams working to make it possible.
“We rally like no other organization I’ve ever seen, and I’ve had the chance to work at other health systems comparable to ours,” says Brownlee. “When you look at something like creating our vaccine clinics, we knew what we needed to do, we knew what the timeline was, and we worked all hours to get it done.”
For Brownlee and team, the long hours are well worth it when they have a chance to vaccinate someone who hasn’t left their house for 12 months.
“It’s all about the people for us,” says Brownlee. “That’s our motivation. We knew very clearly what we needed to do, and that was to improve the health of our community.”
Meet the team:
For Brownlee and the rest of the UI Health Care organization, a special thank you goes out to every employee involved in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
And while it is by no means a complete list, here are some of the influential members of the vaccine team:
|Keri Semrau||Patient Access Center|
|Beth Jaggers/Rachel Kirchner/Debbie Herold||UI Community Clinics|
|Doug Vance||Safety and Security|
|Barb Schuessler||University Employee Health Clinic|
|Pat Winokur||Vaccine Expert|
|Emily Gries||Marketing and Communications|
|Katie Imborek/Pat Hartley/Claudia Corwin||Provider Support|
|Tim Kan/Erin Willits||Planning|
|Pete Forkenbrock (not pictured) / Kyle Anson||Human Resources|
|Ken Valley||HCIS/University Employee Health Clinic|
|Brian Hegland||IT Equipment|
|Luke Leyden||Space Design|