Jenny Busch, a nursing student at Iowa Western Community College, administers a flu vaccine to a Jennie Edmundson Sept. 27.

Can the Methodist Health System administer medicine to its 8,000 employees within in a certain time frame?

Over a period of a few weeks, the entire Methodist system simulated a Closed Point of Dispensary (CPOD) exercise as part of its quarterly emergency management practices, starting with Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs.

In attempt to test Jennie Edmundson’s ability to do a mass vaccination or medication distribution, the hospital was the first to complete its CPOD between Sept. 25 and 27.

Employees filtered into the CPOD room, registered on paper and with their badge, and sat at one of the six stations. In less than a few minutes, the employees answered some questions to a documenter, while the shot was administered by an Iowa Western Community College nursing student.

Courtney Schmid, director of emergency services at Jennie Edmundson, said the test was a success and the Iowa Western students were a huge component of the trial.

By limiting the mass vaccination only to its employees, the POD was considered closed and mandatory to all hospital employees.

“PODs are common in public health emergencies, but this is unique to us in the medical field that it’s closed ... It is mandatory, but if you don’t get a shot, you have to wear a mask the entire time you’re around a patient,” Schmid said.

“So we are testing, can the Methodist Health System administer the medicine to 8,000 employees in a certain time period?” he asked.

By the third day of the trial, the hospital surpassed its 90% goal and still had eight hours to go.

In a real emergency medical situation, Schmid said the CDC would notify the hospital they are sending a national stockpile of medicine in less than 24 hours and they would have only 48 hours to set up PODs and administer the medicine.

Next year, the hospital plans on further mimicking an emergency medical situation by offering the flue vaccine for 48 hours, instead of the 72. Instead of a manual sign-in sheet, Schmid said employees can sign in with badges next year.

“This is the first CPOD we’ve done at this scale,” Schmid said. “Now, employees can get their flue vaccines in less than five minutes. It allows employees to streamline and get their vaccines quicker and easier.”

This year, emergency medical staff announced the method of administering the vaccines. Next year, Schmid said they won’t announce it to better simulate an emergency.

“Every year we hope to test a higher component of the process. If we ever have to open a public dispersion, we are prepared and ready. There are a lot of avenues we can help the public if need be.”

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