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By: Ewa Matuszewski

Many readers know I’m an avowed foodie. Pre-Covid, I was always game to try the newest restaurant and have long been a devoted fan of Detroit’s eclectic food scene. Tell me about a pop-up restaurant and I’m first in line. The latter concept has appropriately grown during the pandemic, as leading chefs seek safe yet fun ways to feed and entertain their followers–while eking out a living for themselves and their workers in the process.

So for me, the idea of pop-up vaccination clinics may have been preordained. As a CDC approved vaccination distributor, our team, either directly or through partner relationships, has vaccinated 3,000 people as of this writing with either the Moderna, Pfizer, or J&J vaccine. While we started out (and continue) vaccinating in traditional settings, as well as drive throughs in physician office parking lots, we quickly branched out to pop-up clinics that targeted the need to increase vaccination rates among Greater Detroit’s Asian community. Meeting at cultural centers and houses of worship, we have conducted pop-up clinics for the Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Hmong, Thai, and Vietnamese communities.

As a Polish immigrant who came to the U.S. as an infant with my parents, I am bi-lingual and bi-cultural and have always maintained strong ties with the Polish community in and around Detroit. Our own organization was originally founded in part to fill a need for foreign-born private practice primary care physicians who couldn’t easily access traditional POs. I’m also keenly aware of the social determinants of health that impact immigrants and first-generation families and am drawn to help find solutions to the challenges that the healthcare system can pose for immigrants and individuals whose native language is not English.

But this conversation leads me to the idea of efficiency, and how important that has been in the success of these clinics. While we don’t hear about it as much these days, the 21st century model of medicine is still the gold standard of providing care. And one of its principles is the use of PDSAs (Plan Do Study Act) to improve efficiencies. Don’t get mired in a process that is not working; quickly analyze the situation, see what’s not working and why, an introduce a new way to meet the desired outcome quickly and accurately.

We had to perform a few PDSAs in our pop-up clinics, because as much as we thought we were prepared, we had to regroup a few times. For example, by allowing various forms of identification for vaccine recording purposes, we sidestepped some of the fears of those who may not be U.S. citizens yet – or have a green card.  I don’t think I anticipated how many community members approached us in fear. We need to get as many people age 16 and above vaccinated to squelch this insidious virus in Michigan and beyond. It was easy to put politics aside when we look at the greater good of population health in the here and now.

Another PDSA was the decision to accept walk-ins, especially young people ages 16 and up (under 18 accompanied by a parent or guardian) to ensure all vaccines were utilized, as we found the no-show rate for scheduled appointments in certain locations was increasing.   

As with every activity, preparation, assigning roles and responsibilities, and debriefing after every pop-up clinic allows the MedNetOne Vaccination Team to work efficiently.  “Have vaccine will travel” is our motto. It’s unfortunate that the opportunity to revisit PDSAs returned with a vengeance because of COVID and all the changes it wrought, but in the process of conquering the virus, it’s worth noting that many of us have gained some needed efficiencies along the way.