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— Clinical

Dose of Hope for High-Risk Seniors

Helping older patients navigate vaccination process

In 2020, Brenda Tanoi lost one or two family members or friends each month to COVID-19. In December 2020, the 68-year-old Logan Heights resident and retired educator from American Samoa was infected herself with the virus.

On the day in mid-April 2021 when these photos were taken, Tanoi was at home, still recovering from her bout with COVID-19 and awaiting her second shot of the Moderna vaccine and a dose of hope from a nurse practitioner with UC San Diego Health’s Population Health Services Organization (PHSO).

“We try to make doing the right thing the easy thing for our elderly patients, helping them get through the last mile of this marathon.”

Ming Tai-Seale, PhD
Doses of Hope For Seniors

By getting vaccinated,
Brenda Tanoi sought to inspire others more hesitant to do the same.

Early in the pandemic, PHSO brought together staff in social work, nursing and pharmacy to anticipate the physical and emotional needs of high-risk seniors, those age 65 and older. The effort included a call center where staff answered questions, triaged needs, provided vaccine education and sometimes just offered a compassionate ear. Ten team members work the phones, handling approximately 10 to 15 calls each, daily.

PHSO’s at-home service took center stage during COVID-19 vaccinations. Staff could reach out to senior patients whose health prevented them from traveling to a vaccination site. As of May 2021, there have been more than 1,000 home visits. “We try to make doing the right thing the easy thing for our elderly patients, helping them get through this marathon,” said Ming Tai-Seale, PhD, director of research and learning at PHSO.

In her visit, Tanoi gratefully and joyfully welcomed visiting nurse practitioner Janet Davis. “I am honored to tell everyone I am fully vaccinated,” Tanoi said. “I want to stop going to memorial services. I want to enjoy many more birthdays and holidays with my family, for as long as I can.”