Greenville County has announced its commitment of more than $1.8 million in CARES Act funding for Prisma Health as the hospital system readies itself to provide COVID-19 vaccinations once they are available, releasing the names of the grantees of the CARES Act on Nov. 25.
The bulk of the funding will go toward purchasing three mobile units that will be used to provide the vaccine to communities around the county. Prisma will also use funds to purchase adequate alarm systems for refrigerators for the vaccines as well as new telemedicine kits that can help patients measure their vitals during a telehealth screening.
“We know that there are vulnerable populations. We know that there are disparities … We want to make sure that everybody has access to the vaccine, but certainly, we want to make sure that those who have been hit hardest by COVID would have access as well. So that was the impetus to get [the grant] done,” says Dr. Kerry Sease, a member of Prisma’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and medical director of the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health and Advocacy.
It was that motivation that led the Prisma team to apply for CARES Act funding from the county.
The mobile units will be step vans — Sease compares the units to food trucks — equipped with medical-grade storage for everything from a vaccine to the syringes. With the refrigerators keeping the vaccine safe, the units can stay at the location all day, says Sease.
“Yes, we want to get out into those more rural areas, but we also want to say, ‘OK, is there a particular ZIP code where we know that we have an at-risk population, and so how do we get to that ZIP code instead of having them have to figure out how to come to us?'” Sease says.
The overall hope, according to Sease, is to be proactive against the novel coronavirus. Right now, Sease and the staff at Prisma are planning out various scenarios about vaccinations.
“We’ve had a task force in place and lots of thought and effort are going into it so that when we do have the vaccine,” Sease says, “we will be ready.”