Aerial view of Bakersfield mass vaccination site

Bakersfield launches community vaccination center
Story 17

Jacalyn Liebowitz: Adventist Health's mission is one of health, wholeness and hope, and this is really about the hope.

Kiyoshi Tomono: We've taken on a calling of what God expects of us, which is to be his hands and feet. That's a pretty heavy burden.

Allison Fugitt: We are standing at Cal State University, Bakersfield. We're right outside of their student resource center, now officially our COVID-19 mass vaccination center.

Kiyoshi Tomono: The goal here is to have one location where we can bring thousands of people and vaccinate them efficiently and quickly, and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.

Fadi Abu Sneineh: We started this journey a month ago in a race against time. We closed the basketball courts. We made them a vaccination hub.

Allison Fugitt: Observation area was a functioning gym with all the exercise equipment.

Fadi Abu Sneineh: We moved everything to the Icardo Center. So it was a lot of work.

Rebecca Malson: The last few weeks have been very, very busy, a lot of hustle and bustle.

Jacalyn Liebowitz: In order to bring up the mass vaccination center, it requires not just planning, but a lot of people to be able to manage it.

Fadi Abu Sneineh: In every shift, I think that 70 to 80 employees.

Rebecca Malson: Staffing, IT.

Kiyoshi Tomono: Registration teams, the clinical teams.

Rebecca Malson: Environmental services to make sure all the sharps containers are put away.

Kiyoshi Tomono: The teams that had to come up and set everything up out here, it was a pretty large undertaking.

Rebecca Malson: And now, it is a pharmacy prep area or an actual vaccination station. Every single little detail, basically, of a hospital has been placed at this site.

Jacalyn Liebowitz: We have observation areas that we can bring people to if they are having more intense reactions. And then we have all of the lifesaving equipment to provide more than need should anyone have it. We actually have an ambulance onsite at all times. Hey sir.

Reynold Reynoso Hernandez: How are you doing today?

Jacalyn Liebowitz: Good. How are you?

Reynold Reynoso Hernandez: Doing good. My role here on the mass vac site is to be a physician leader. By being the last voice of reason, what you try to do is to calm the people's fears, to be safe and efficient, and to coordinate any questions medically related.

Jacalyn Liebowitz: Today is actually what I would call our soft opening. And so today we will run a very small number of people through the vaccination site so that we can test and understand if we have anything that isn't working, if we need to tweak any of our processes.

Rebecca Malson: No one organization could accomplish this on their own.

Kiyoshi Tomono: We were kind of running this operationally with three different groups. We've got Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Adventist Health all on site. So you have three different groups, but we're all operating as one cohesive team.

Fadi Abu Sneineh: We all have common goal, which is one community, one entity trying to get rid of this virus.

Allison Fugitt: So when you're all working for the same goal, it doesn't matter what organization you come from. You're all working together.

Reynold Reynoso Hernandez: Everybody's excited, and we are volunteering to do this work because we know it's the right thing to do.

Jacalyn Liebowitz: What we are doing today will impact more lives than I've ever touched throughout all of my decades in nursing. This is huge.

Kiyoshi Tomono: This mass vaccination hub has the ability to bring in 5,400 people per day, which is roughly 38,000 people that we could vaccinate every single week, which is pretty astonishing when you think of those numbers. We're looking at being able to vaccinate everyone that wants to be vaccinated in Kern County by June.

Jacalyn Liebowitz: We're probably going to be surpassing upwards of 3 million people that Adventist Health will be touching to be able to vaccinate.

Reynold Reynoso Hernandez: The community is part of you. I live here. So it's part of us. They are our friends, our family. We don't want to see them in the hospital. So we can prevent hospitalization and death by getting people vaccinated. It's really important.

Speaker 7: Awesome.

Speaker 8: Not too bad?

Speaker 7: Nope.

Speaker 8: All right.

Speaker 7: And so where's the observation?

Speaker 9: Within probably 60 seconds of walking in, I started crying. This is amazingly well-organized, and it was the easiest thing that I feel like I've done in 12 months, but it is also such a hopeful thing. We're going to get to move forward. This feels like the most positive, hopeful thing that I have done in 12 months is walking into this room. The way that it's laid out, the floor markings, the colors, the balloons, all of it feels like such a celebration. Kudos and thanks from the bottom of my heart as a human and as a mother and just citizen for putting this together and moving us forward.

Speaker 10: I think folks are hoping we'll get enough vaccines administered to where we're getting toward that herd immunity, and it's a light at the end of the tunnel. We're getting close. And so I'm excited about it.

Rebecca Malson: Anyone who works in healthcare knows the devastating effects of what COVID can be on some people. The thought that we can give a vaccine to someone and prevent that illness, it's really, really, really exciting.

Speaker 11: Ready?

Speaker 10: Yep. Painless. Didn’t feel a thing.

Speaker 11: And here's some more information.

Rebecca Malson: And so I'm really thankful to now embrace hope and joy and the end of this pandemic and getting my daughter to school full-time.

Speaker 12: He's got an autoimmune disease. So it's important for us to stay healthy because he can't get this. So that's one of the reasons why it was so important for us to get vaccinated.

Speaker 13: Get the vaccine. It will protect us.

Speaker 11: This is just a major part of history that we're going to look back at on our textbooks. So to come here and be a part of the solution, it's humbling. It's definitely humbling, and I can't wait to tell my kids about it.

Allison Fugitt: I've got a little girl at home. When she gets old enough, I'm really glad that I would be able to tell her that I helped in my small part in the pandemic.

Rebecca Malson: It's going to be seven days a week, 12-hour days for everyone. So we're all going to be hustling and working really, really hard.

Kiyoshi Tomono: We know it's a big job. It's a heavy burden, but being able to deliver happiness and hope to people is something that's giving people a lot of joy, too.

Fadi Abu Sneineh: It wasn't a challenge. It was joy. To be honest with you, it was joy to work in this effort. It's part of our mission as Adventist Health living God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope, and that hope is what we're trying to promote here in our community.

Reynold Reynoso Hernandez: Adventist Health is a force for good. I'm very joyful to work for Adventist and being able to be in this position that I can help.

Jacalyn Liebowitz: It really has been a labor of love to be able to deliver on our mission. It is that level of hope that is inspiring.