The University of New England (UNE) Medical Centre has been recognised for its efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic earning the Patients First Award at the PHN's 2022 Primary Care Quality and Innovation Awards.
By leveraging a combination of existing relationships and a scalable workforce who were otherwise stood down from business as usual, UNE Medical Centre created a series of 29 drop-in clinics to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations.
UNE observed that the introduction of mandates was driving confusion around access to, and the safety of, the new COVID-19 vaccination, leading to a general feeling of vaccine hesitancy in the communities within Armidale and surrounding local government areas.
By removing barriers such as travel, appointments, and the need for an existing GP, UNE administered 7,100 vaccines to the communities of Armidale, Inverell, Glen Innes, Ashford, Delungra, Moree, Tamworth, Tingha, as well as seasonal international workers.
At all times, the clinics were communicated as entirely accessible, and no person turned away. The clinical team assisted in determining Medicare details, demonstrating how to apply for an IHI, or simply making note of patients likely to face certification access issues.
Equally important was the staff walking the line, assisting people with required forms (in many circumstances acting as scribes for those unable to complete the paperwork themselves), triaging those with accessibility issues, and notifying a dedicated GP to talk through the concerns of any potential patients prior to them receiving a vaccination.
By December 2021, 29 clinics had been conducted across the region providing a total of 7,100 vaccinations.