How Harness Helped One University Ensure a Healthier Student Body

Greenville skyline

Harness Health Partners and Bon Secours health system worked closely with Furman University to implement a COVID-vaccination clinic for their student body (Greenville, SC). 

Furman University is a private liberal arts university located in Greenville, South Carolina. The school prides itself on maintaining a healthy and safe environment for its student body, which currently consists of approximately 2,500 students. After the state-mandated closures, Furman University welcomed students back for the 2020-2021 school year by offering a phased approach developed by its team of epidemiologists in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and the American College Health Association. As a residential campus, Furman had a unique challenge to keep students safe and healthy while living and learning on campus. The school’s approach offered virtual learning while bringing those students who elected to return to in-person learning back in smaller groups to reduce campus density and opportunities for viral transmission. During the academic year, Furman University strictly adhered to prevention measures, employing testing protocols, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation procedures to limit any spread of the virus. The university did essentially everything in its power to advance students toward their academic goals while balancing health and safety, so when the governor of South Carolina opened up COVID vaccines to the general public, school officials wanted to respond to this opportunity as quickly as possible.

An Urgent Search for Help

At the time, South Carolina was offering vaccinations through appointments with the major local health systems and pharmacies. Individual appointment times were challenging to schedule, and especially with some students’ lack of access to transportation, it quickly became apparent that there wasn’t a system in place to provide vaccinations at the educational institution level. Furman officials wanted to offer vaccines for students before the end of the school year, which was rapidly approaching, and they realized the need for their own on-campus, pop-up vaccination clinic. They contacted the local health systems and DHEC, but the overwhelming demand for public vaccinations limited their capacity to offer any assistance. Furman University began to investigate other options. Its on-campus sports medicine clinic already had a strong relationship with Bon Secours (St. Francis Therapy Center – Furman Sportsmedicine). In addition, Furman and its faculty had an excellent relationship with Dr. Marcus Blackstone, a Bon Secours physician who had been active in increasing local vaccine availability, including to teachers in the public school system. Furman officials contacted Dr. Blackstone with their urgent request, who worked with Bon Secours to mobilize its health solutions company, Harness Health Partners, immediately and begin to make the on-campus vaccine clinic a reality.

Putting the Plan in Action

Harness Health Partners began by working with Furman’s Covid response team, who emailed all of the 2,000 students living on campus, as well as faculty and staff, to gauge interest in receiving the vaccines and book appointments. Furman also provided a virtual panel discussion led by faculty epidemiologists, immunologists and members of the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control to answer students’ vaccine-related questions and address any concerns.

On April 18, just days before final exams, a 20-person team of Harness Health Partners medical personnel arrived to run Furman’s on-campus clinic. Harness Health Partners staff managed the check-in, processing, and vaccination procedures and provided the required observation of vaccine recipients. As a division of Bon Secours Mercy Health, Harness was also able to book students’ second vaccination appointments during their initial check-in. For added convenience, students could secure their 2nd shot individually at locations either near the Furman campus or closer to their home. And despite the clinic’s high turnout rate of 90% of all reservations made, once the vaccinations were completed, all unused doses were transferred to another clinic in the area, resulting in zero waste.

Harness Health Partners began by working with Furman’s Covid response team, who emailed all of the 2,000 students living on campus, as well as faculty and staff, to gauge interest in receiving the vaccines and book appointments. Furman also provided a virtual panel discussion led by faculty epidemiologists, immunologists and members of the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control to answer students’ vaccine-related questions and address any concerns.

On April 18, just days before final exams, a 20-person team of Harness Health Partners medical personnel arrived to run Furman’s on-campus clinic. Harness Health Partners staff managed the check-in, processing, and vaccination procedures and provided the required observation of vaccine recipients. As a division of Bon Secours Mercy Health, Harness was also able to book students’ second vaccination appointments during their initial check-in. For added convenience, students could secure their 2nd shot individually at locations either near the Furman campus or closer to their home. And despite the clinic’s high turnout rate of 90% of all reservations made, once the vaccinations were completed, all unused doses were transferred to another clinic in the area, resulting in zero waste.

A Unique and Special Offering

“At the crucial time period this opportunity was offered, Bon Secours was the only organization in our area with the ability to pull this off,” said Dr. John Wheeler, the Associate Provost for Integrative Science at Furman University. “Especially for students without transportation, this was a unique and special offering to be able to provide for our students. And without the speed and flexibility that Bon Secours and Harness Health demonstrated during planning and execution, this never would have been possible.”

With only 10 days from concept to execution, the on-campus clinic provided by Furman University and Harness Health Partners was able to begin the vaccination process for 10% of its on-campus student population. In addition, Furman ensured that their international student population could be vaccinated in addition to family members of faculty and staff.

For more information on what Harness Health Partners can do for you, contact us today.

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