Winn builds readiness for mass pandemic with annual drive thru flu clinic

By Zach RehnstromNovember 3, 2017

Winn builds readiness for mass pandemic with annual drive thru flu clinic
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The purpose of the flu drive is to provide intramuscular flu vaccine injections to the Stewart - Hunter Community. It also provides a valuable training environment for MEDDAC Soldiers and staff in case of a pandemic incident.

"Just in case there would be an event that would occur here at Fort Stewart, where we have a massive infectious disease or something of that nature, our Soldiers will know how to be prepared," said Maj. Dionicia Russell, chief APHN at Winn.

At Hunter's Tuttle Army Health Clinic, Commander, Lt. Col. John Urciuoli, echoed the importance of maintaining an enhanced state of medical readiness.

"It's a great opportunity to get outside, where in a mass casualty situation, you wouldn't be able to bring everybody into your building," he said. "So, now you're outside having to deal with element, power and electricity. How are you going to run your processes outside in a more austere environment?"

Over the course of four days, 2,049 influenza vaccines were administered to the beneficiaries at Stewart-Hunter. Karen Heetland, a practical nursing student with Savannah Technical College, volunteers with the committed staff at Winn. She viewed the event as a unique training opportunity.

"I have given everything from IM [Intramuscular] injections on toddlers to the elderly," Heetland said. "I filled out all of their paperwork, walked them through the process of how they are given the shots, and made sure they had no allergies."

Heetland, a military spouse and beneficiary at Winn, hopes this event will help better prepare her for her future career in nursing. She also hopes the event provides her with the ability to trouble shoot and problem solve in this unique learning environment.

"Like the elderly, if they are on blood thinners, to make sure they don't have a bleeding risk from the injection; children, if they don't know they are allergic to eggs, and having anaphylactic shock afterwards . . . just being able to gain that experience, learning hands on," Heetland said.

The Drive Thru-Flu clinic provides an expedient environment, where the beneficiaries' from the Stewart and Hunter communities, as well as retirees, can receive their flu shot without having to enter the hospital.

"I think it's extremely important because it affords Families, like myself, who have busy schedules, an opportunity to run in through the drive thru, get a flu shot, and it helps prevent flus during the seasons," said Eric Hollis, retired veteran.

Overall, the annual event was a success, with an increase from last year of around 500 more flu vaccines administered. It left the Winn and Tuttle staff battle tested and ready in case a mass pandemic occurs.