Cold and flu season is in full swing, and the Flu Crew is here to combat its effects.
Made up of six nursing seniors, includinh Molly Kmetz, Yanna Savkova, Brianna Reed, Jamie Fitzgerald, Kelly Weniger and Shane McParland, the Crew’s mission is to keep as many people from getting sick as possible.
These students teamed up with the Infection Prevention and Control Department at Temple University Hospital in November. Since then, they’ve made an effort to ensure flu vaccines are given to all members of the TUH staff who may be too busy during the hectic season to protect themselves.
The Flu Crew is a fully equipped mobile unit, and it moves around the hospital giving free flu shots to the staff members working on the hospital floor, Kmetz said.
Before they began assisting the staff at TUH in November, they made several plans to increase the crew’s effectiveness, like designing a T-shirt to raise awareness.
“That was a huge part of it,” Savkova said of their bright green shirts. “It kind of brought people in and attracted them. They would go, ‘What’s the Flu Crew? And what’s that all about?’ We kind of got them interested.”
This idea of designing special T-shirts enabled the crew to be easily spotted and approached by the staff in the busy hospital, whether they needed a shot or wanted to show their bandage, indicating they already received one.
But in addition to administering the vaccines, which will continue through March 31, the Flu Crew has another goal in mind.
They want to “educate why it is a good idea to get the vaccine and what kind of positive effects it can have,” said Savkova, who is also a member of Temple University Emergency Medical Services.
The seniors’ efforts initially began in a combination of two classes they took this past fall: Senior Leadership Theory and Community Home, where all nursing students must volunteer for an organization outside the classroom.
While this is the Flu Crew’s first year in service, they have been making headway.
TUH hires thousands of employees and a major portion of them, approximately 75 percent to 85 percent, have already been vaccinated by the crew. With a compliance goal of 90 percent, the Flu Crew is confident they will reach their goal by the end of flu season in April.
The crew has also distributed surveys among the staff asking for their opinions on vaccines. They then plan to collect and review this data to improve and facilitate future Flu Crews and educational events in the future.
The students decided to submit the vaccine surveys to different journals and newspapers to share and publicize their findings.
The remaining couple of months of their service have the crew already planning for the next flu season.
“We are going to be planning for the next year, specifically when to implement the mobile unit, when to actually start educating, when to have the kickoff day for next year [and how to] design the protocol for next year,” Savkova said.
Noah Weiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.