COVID-19 Efforts Q3 2020

In June 2020, Governor Murphy lifted the state’s stay at home order and sites were beginning to resume more normal operations. Pharmacy leadership calls reduced in frequency and the hospitals began a “Welcome Back” campaign to encourage our patients to seek care for routine medical treatment. The Pharmacy Enterprise kept on top of developments and updates to NIH and CDC guidelines, updated order sets, pump libraries and educated front line providers about changes in guidelines. The enterprise took a hard look back at how each division managed the first wave of this pandemic and surveyed all its members asking for honest feedback on what went well and what could be improved upon. Survey responses were collated and carefully considered as teams pivoted once again to incorporate the feedback as they continued to gradually resume usual operations; all while keeping eyes on the literature to stay ahead of any new drug or vaccine efforts. COVID-19 related meetings declined and standing meetings occurred again, albeit in a virtual format. Our groups learned quickly how to adjust and become just as effective meeting virtually to collaborate in achieving goals. The corporate team partnered with the RWJBH Office of Diversity and Inclusion to create a virtual Diversity, Inclusion and Implicit Bias training course for residency program leaders, preceptors and residents. With over fifty members of our organization in attendance, it was considered a great success.

Through the summer COVID cases were present but did not dominate everyday life. By mid-September there were initial reports that the vaccine being developed by Pfizer would have unique storage requirements in temperatures around -80°F, well below the capabilities of our standard medical grade freezers. The corporate team assisted with an equipment assessment and made the decision to purchase these specialty ultra-cold freezers for each acute care facility so our sites could more easily handle the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine if it was made available. Along with this information the teams were receiving some preliminary information regarding vaccine stability and administration requirements. The initial COVID-19 vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, would require an initial and booster dose either 21 or 28 days later which would necessitate significant scheduling and coordination. At this point, our Chief Pharmacy Officer, Indu Lew, was asked to chair the RWJBH COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.