Incident Command Update: Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

This week, the FDA approved the use of a COVID-19 booster for specific populations​, including those over 65, those who are immunocompromised and those who work in health care. Here’s what we know right now:

  • All Children’s staff who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are eligible to receive the booster.
  • At this time, the booster is optional. Children’s does not require the booster shot; however, the initial vaccination for COVID-19 is required.
  • The booster is ONLY available for those who received Pfizer the first time. A Moderna booster is not yet approved so if you received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, this does not apply to you.
  • The booster can be received six months after your initial vaccination series.
  • The booster is still recommended if you have had COVID-19, but you should not get the booster if you are currently experiencing symptoms or have tested positive with an active infection.

Because such a small percentage of Children’s workforce received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Children’s is not currently planning an on-site booster clinic. But the Pfizer COVID-19 booster is widely available in our community, and eligible employees are encouraged to schedule a booster appointment at a community pharmacy such as Walgreens, CVS, HyVee or Walmart. If you are a physician who is also employed by UNMC, you may receive your flu shot and your COVID-19 Pfizer booster at UNMC. Please note: If you receive the Pfizer COVID-19 booster elsewhere, please share those records with Employee Health immediately following the shot.

Make a booster appointment here for Walgreens, HyVee, CVS or Walmart.

Click here to learn more about signing up for a booster or flu shot at UNMC.

This situation is rapidly evolving and Incident Command is committed to sharing information in a timely and transparent manner. Please continue to check your email, myChildren’s or The Pulse for updates on the COVID-19 booster, as well as vaccination in children ages 5 through 11. Thank you for your continued dedication to keeping yourselves, your colleagues and our patients safe.

Flu Vaccine Clinics Planned

Flu season is upon us and now is the time to protect yourself, your patients and the community by getting vaccinated! Influenza viruses typically ramp up each year in the fall, lasting through the spring, so September and October are ideal times to be vaccinated. Most people who catch the flu recover without complications, but influenza can be associated with serious illness and hospitalization, especially among older adults and young children. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccines for everyone older than six months.

A few things to note about this year’s shot:

  • The composition of the flu vaccines has been updated to match circulating flu viruses. The composition is reviewed annually and updated as needed to match the most common viruses circulating. 
  • All flu vaccines will be quadrivalent, which means they are designed to protect against four different flu viruses.
  • Flu vaccines and COVD-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.

Employee Health continues to be creative in the delivery of our routine services, including administering the flu vaccine. New this year, all clinical staff will receive their flu vaccine within their clinical departments (unless received during their annual compliance review or requested otherwise). For all other staff, many vaccine options are available. Please click here to view a chart of available dates/times.

Employees may also make a flu vaccine appointment with Employee Health by calling 402-955-6020 or through your primary care provider or pharmacy. If you receive the flu vaccine elsewhere, please provide documentation of the vaccine to Employee Health. As a reminder, flu vaccines are required annually for all Children’s employees, contingent workers and volunteers and must be received by Nov. 30. Please refer to policy HR221 with any questions.

Provider Update: New Physicians

Mackenzie Laurila, D.O., Pediatric Anesthesiology

Dr. Laurila received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Des Moines University Medical School. She completed her Anesthesiology residency, as well as her Pediatric Anesthesiology fellowship, at UNMC College of Medicine. She is an assistant professor, UNMC Division of Anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Laurila received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Des Moines University Medical School. She completed her Anesthesiology residency, as well as her Pediatric Anesthesiology fellowship at UNMC College of Medicine. She is an assistant professor, UNMC Division of Anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology.

Laura Pratt (Ballenger), M.D., RhMSUS Pediatric Rheumatology

Dr. Pratt received her medical degree at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. She completed her Pediatrics residency, as well as a Pediatric Rheumatology fellowship, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. She is an assistant professor, UNMC Division of Rheumatology, Department of Pediatrics.

Technically Speaking: Phantom Voalte Alerts

Excellent communication is one of the cornerstones of the practice of medicine. Every day, we strive to advance the functionality of our solutions to ensure we can all talk to each other when necessary and do so in an efficient manner. So, when I heard about a bug in our Voalte platform that was compromising provider efficiency, I thought I’d let you know about it (and how to fix it).

From time to time, users will receive a Voalte alert that cannot be cleared.  No matter how often they open the app and tap on a conversation, Voalte will still list the conversation in bold font, and they will still see a badge on the Voalte icon on the home screen showing that they have an unread message. This invariably leads to the user thinking they somehow missed a message and checking multiple times, slowing down their day. This issue has been a problem for several months, but it seems to be much more common after the recent Voalte facelift. 

While we work on diagnosing the problem and implementing a solution, there’s an easy, temporary fix you can use—just quit the app and re-launch it! Note: quitting an app is not the same as returning to your device’s lock screen!

On an iPhone (X or newer), swipe up from the bottom and continue to hold your finger on the screen.  If your iPhone is a pre-X model, double tap the home button. On an Android device, tap the three dots in the bottom left. This will bring up a visual display of all your open apps. Flick the Voalte placard up to quit the app. Then, return to your home screen and tap the Voalte icon again. Your phantom message should now be cleared!

Some users have also reported inconsistent audible alerts (or a lack of audible alerts entirely) when using Voalte. These issues seem isolated and require unique fixes.

If you’re having trouble of any kind with Voalte, please reach out and let me know about it!  Thanks for all you do!

Stephen Dolter, M.D., CMIO

Pfizer Reports Vaccine Safe for Kids Ages 5 and Older

On Monday, Sept. 20, Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is effective in children ages 5 to 11 and said it will soon be seeking approval from the FDA to begin administering to this group. For this age group, Pfizer tested a lower dose that is one-third the strength of the adult vaccine and found that children developed antibodies just as strong as adults. Children’s is closely monitoring this developing situation and will continue to advocate and play an important role in protecting our patients and the children in our community.

New Children’s Physicians Operations Managers Announced

Lindsay Whelan has been named operations manager for Children’s Physicians, Embassy Park and Creighton. Lindsay has worked at Children’s Physicians for 12 years. She has a wealth of experience within the clinics working as a float nurse, lead RN and most recently as our nurse continuity coordinator.

Heather Steffen has accepted the operations manager position for Children’s Physicians, Council Bluffs. Heather has worked at Children’s Physicians for the past three years as a staff nurse and as the clinical supervisor in Urgent Care. Most recently, she has also provided our Children’s Physicians team with much-needed support in staffing, as well as Labor and Delivery and Mother Baby.

Luke Tipler has been named operations manager for Children’s Physicians, Plattsmouth and UNMC. Luke has been with Children’s for 20 years and has worked as a nurse in Med/Surg and Emergency, as well as started up and managed the Short Stay Unit. Luke most recently has been involved with the COVID-19 employee vaccine team and is currently working as a research coordinator. 

Official transition dates for Heather and Lindsay will be Oct. 10 and Luke on Oct. 24. Please help me in welcoming them to their new positions.

Thank you,
Trista Gaebel MHA, BSN, RN, Children’s Physicians Director of Operations

Juliette’s Story – The Power of Hope & Advocacy

Baby Juliette’s story is proof that advocacy can change—and save—children’s lives. In 2019, Children’s helped advocate to get spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)—a rare, devastating genetic disorder—added to Nebraska’s state newborn screening, and Juliette is one of the first babies to benefit as a result. Thanks to the screening, her diagnosis was detected early so that she could get time-sensitive access to a disease-reversing gene replacement therapy. Special thanks to Juliette’s neurologist, Geetanjali Rathore, M.D., and Liz Lyons, Children’s director of Advocacy & Government Affairs, for their advocacy on this issue.

Watch Juliette’s story here

Save the Date for CHRI Bone Health Mini Research Summit on Nov. 18

Child Health Research Institute (CHRI) is hosting the Bone Health Mini Summit on Nov. 18, convened by the CHRI Genetics, Development, Exposures & Injuries Area of Emphasis (AOE). The AOE has selected bone-related health and disorders as the focus of this year’s summit.

The mini summit, led by Matthew Halanski, M.D., Orthopedics; Eric Peeples, M.D., Neonatology, and Bill Rizzo, M.D., Metabolic Disorders and CHRI scientific director, invites attendees to attend to share projects, discover new resources and make valuable connections for future collaborative opportunities that improve child health.

Read more here.

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