340B Insight Podcast
Episode Nineteen: 340B Hospitals Are COVID Vaccine Leaders
January 25, 2021
This week we are joined by Scott Milner, senior director of pharmacy, business development, purchasing, 340B, and infusion services at St. Luke’s Health System in Idaho. Scott shares his personal experiences on how the health system has been finding ways to overcome COVID-19 vaccine distribution challenges and describes how the effort has become a personal mission for him. Prior to the interview, we discuss in our news update segment how drug companies are suing HHS in response to the department’s advisory opinion on 340B contract pharmacies. When we recorded the episode, three companies had filed such lawsuits. Since then, a fourth company also has gone to court over the issue. (Transcript)
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- Preparing for the COVID-19 Vaccine Scott shares his and his colleagues’ reactions to the exciting moment when they received the news that the vaccine had arrived at the hospital. To be prepared for the first delivery, decisions were made quickly without knowing full details about the vaccines. St. Luke’s acquired extra needles and syringes in case they were not provided with the doses. After learning what temperatures were needed to store vaccines, they purchased ultra-low freezers and ensured they had enough generator power. Preparation occurred while the hospital continued making pharmacy decisions to support the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
- Overcoming Distribution Challenges St. Luke's must track who is first eligible to receive the vaccine and ensure all eligible patients who request a dose receive it. They monitor this by using appointments. The initial vaccine deliveries were delayed in arriving due to the holiday season, so when St. Luke’s received the first shipment, they immediately enlisted their medevac helicopters to deliver the vaccines to their other locations throughout the state. Scott also noted the extra hours hospital staff and volunteers have worked as being key to smooth operation of the vaccine clinics.
- Ensuring No Community is Overlooked St. Luke’s has critical access facilities, a sole community hospital, and disproportionate share hospitals in Idaho. Scott explains that they treat many uninsured and underinsured patients, many of whom work several part-time jobs. The 340B assist program allows the system to provide 1,800 patients with access to medication cost assistance. St. Luke’s also has been working with remote rural communities with smaller numbers of patients and staff and limited access to equipment and storage space to grant them access to the optimal amount of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
- One COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effect is Hope Scott shares a personal story of why working on vaccine distribution is so meaningful to him and why he is eager to educate and support people who are uncertain about receiving the vaccine. He believes the most important “side effect” of COVID-19 vaccines is hope.
Check out all our episodes on the 340B Insight podcast website. You also can stay updated on all 340B Health news and information by visiting our homepage. If you have any questions you would like us to cover in this podcast, email us at podcast@340BHealth.org.
- 340B Health Analysis of Drug Manufacturers’ Lawsuits Against HHS
- 340B Insight Episode 14: The Biden Administration, New Congress, and 340B
- Scott Milner’s Video of the Phone Call Announcing the Arrival of the COVID-19 Vaccine
- Faces of 340B: St. Luke’s Health Patient Kathleen Cavanagh
- 340B Health Advocacy Webinar: A New Congress and Administration. What Does This Mean for 340B?
- 340B Coalition 2021 Winter Conference