Participants can now say, “I got stuck on the bus”
It all started with a question posed at a Community Partnership Team (CPT) meeting. The Cherriots Outreach Team keeps Cherriots top-of-mind by attending more than 100 community meetings like this one just this past quarter. So when NW Human Services Strategic Partnerships Manager Kristen Kuenz asked if anyone had any ideas for adding space to their Monmouth clinic so they could safely administer vaccines, Cherriots Travel Trainer Lisa Carignan said, “We probably have an extra bus you could use.” Everybody chuckled, but Kristen thought, “That’s not too crazy of an idea.”
NW Human Services shares a goal with Cherriots: support the community. They serve 12,000 patients in Marion and Polk counties at two clinics. The clinic is West Salem is currently under renovation, so they could offer vaccines there. The clinic in Monmouth, called Total Health Community Clinic, just isn’t big enough to serve current patients and give vaccine recipients space to physically distance during the mandatory post-shot waiting period for potential reactions.
Clinical Services Manager Melissa Borsberry sees using a Cherriots bus to administer their 400 vaccines as a perfect solution to increase the number of vaccinated people in Polk County. When the bus arrived for the first day of vaccinations on Wednesday, April 13, she exclaimed, “This is so exciting. Why am I so excited over a bus?” The transit nerds among us understand completely.
Patients enter the bus through the front door to check in and receive the vaccination in the priority seating area up front. Then they head to the back of the bus or to a chair on the sidewalk when the weather is nice, (physically distanced, of course). There they wait for any reactions to the vaccination, and then they’re on their way. A Cherriots bus is scheduled to be at the clinic one to two days each week now through August, depending on vaccination availability, to serve these patients.
Cherriots Customer Service Manager Melissa Kidd has taken the lead in coordinating this effort and she’s so excited for this unique and innovative idea. It’s a perfect example of Cherriots serving the community in the comprehensive way that is evident at the outreach meetings she attends. With significant coordination on both sides, this amazing partnership helps ensure that local Oregonians have access to vaccinations in regional areas where barriers can prevent individuals from getting vital vaccinations they might not have been able to otherwise receive.