HOISINGTON – A tradition that began five years ago has become an ongoing legacy of true dedication to Clara Barton Hospital. The Gifts from the Heart Appeal began at the 20th Annual Clara Barton Hospital Foundation Benefit Event in honor of Janet Hipp, longtime employee of the hospital.
The Appeal allows bidders to donate funds towards a piece of medical equipment. In the first year, donors funded a surgery recovery monitor. Since then, donors have funded a stress test machine, the Nanosphere, and, now, funded in part pharmaceutical refrigerators and freezers for each of the three Clara Barton Clinics.
For years, Clara Barton Medical Clinic and Russell Family Medical Care have participated in the Vaccines for Children Program. VFC provides free vaccines for children from birth through age 18 who are on Medicaid/Kancare or are uninsured. Patients who have commercial insurance that does not cover vaccines are also eligible to receive vaccines through the VFC Program.
“It is incredibly important for children to receive their scheduled childhood immunizations,” said Trish Martin, informatics nurse at Clara Barton. “Not only does it protect the child from illness and disease, but it also protects other children who are too young to have received the immunization, or those who cannot receive the immunization due to a compromised immune system.”
Vaccines have reduced, and in some cases eradicated, certain diseases world-wide. According to immunizeUSA.org, vaccines save an estimated 42,000 lives every year in the U.S. alone.
“Because of the VFC Program, all children are able to receive vaccines no matter what their financial situation may be,” said Martin. “The VFC Program is a fantastic program to have available for our patients and is extremely crucial for our community, because in 2016 alone we were able to provide 258 vaccines to children who otherwise may not have been able to afford immunizations.”
Although crucial, it involves a great deal of work and coordination. Vaccines given through VFC are provided by the state at no cost, but are very closely monitored, and are carefully tracked.
Because the program requires close monitoring, recent changes to VFC created a need for medical-grade pharmaceutical refrigerators and freezer. The clinics had been using household kitchen refrigerator-freezer combos. The addition of pharmaceutical refrigerators/freezers would help ensure proper storage and access to the vaccines. Although vital in order to continue the VFC Program, it was costly.
“Initially, when we began pricing the units, we found that each pharmaceutical refrigerator and freezer unit would cost around $6,000 combined,” said Deb Hawkins, Clara Barton Clinic Administrator. “Since we have been working toward launching the VFC program in our Great Bend Clinic as well, the total cost for new pharmaceutical units for all three of our clinics totaled around $18,000.”
After applying for a VFC grant through the state, Clara Barton learned it would provide funding for half of the cost of the units for both the Hoisington and Russell clinics. Once the Great Bend Clinic is successfully enrolled in the program, the grant will cover half the cost of the units for that location as well.
Although the funding had partially been covered, over $9,000 was still needed. Because of donors who gave during the 2017 appeal, the Foundation was able to assist with funding the balance.
“The addition of the pharmaceutical refrigerators and freezers not only helps us to meet the necessary requirements for the VFC program, but it also creates a much safer environment for the storage of our vaccines,” said Hawkins.
“The pharmaceutical refrigerators and freezers have also greatly increased our ability to track the vaccines that are flowing in and out of the unit,” said Shayla Cook, Lead Clinic Nurse. “Our pharmaceutical units are only accessible by our vaccine program coordinators, which helps to ensure accurate inventory tracking.”
Since the installation of the new pharmaceutical units, vaccine tracking has been 100 percent accurate.
Clara Barton Medical Clinic-Great Bend has completed the enrollment process and submitted their application to be a participating member of the VFC Program. Upon approval from the State of Kansas, all three Clara Barton Clinics location will offer the VFC Program.
Dinner tickets and golf tournament registration for the Clara Barton Hospital Foundation 25th Annual Benefit, Friday, June 15, can be completed online at www.clarabartonhospital.com or by contacting the Foundation office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 620-653-5012. Advance registration is encouraged as only 225 dinner tickets are sold and golf teams must be registered by June 11.