NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Roper St. Francis Healthcare is gearing up to offer drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations for patients 70 and older at the in the parking lot at the North Charleston Coliseum.
“Roper St. Francis Healthcare is taking a bold step forward as it expands its COVID-19 vaccination efforts to the public by implementing drive-thru vaccines,” the healthcare system said in an announcement Friday.
The drive-thru site will initially be limited to patients who are 70 and older. Anyone who shows up without an appointment will be turned away.
When Governor Henry McMaster announced people 70 and older should begin making their appointments to receive the vaccine as part of the state’s distribution plan, leaders with Roper St. Francis and physicians immediately began planning ways to scale up vaccinations to reach more residents.
Patients who are interested in getting their vaccination through the Roper St. Francis Healthcare drive-thru can contact their Roper St. Francis Healthcare doctors’ office to schedule appointment beginning Friday.
However, people 70+ who do not have a Roper St. Francis Healthcare physician can call 843-727-DOCS to schedule their appointments.
“Due to the complexity of scheduling and forecasting when doses will arrive, we only will be able to accommodate scheduled appointments. This means anyone who drives up without an appointment will be turned away,” officials with the healthcare system said.
“This is an innovative, safe and sustainable solution that will make a significant impact on the Lowcountry and our residents’ ability to protect themselves from this deadly virus,” said Roper St. Francis Healthcare Senior Vice President and Chief Physician Officer Dr. Chris McLain.
Right now, the healthcare system is working through the details, but the plan is for Lowcountry residents who have scheduled appointments to drive into the North Charleston Coliseum parking lot beginning Jan. 20 and receive the vaccine from the comfort of their vehicles.
Those receiving the vaccine would be required to remain in their vehicles for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine to ensure no adverse side effects, and clinicians would be on site and ready to treat anyone experiencing a severe reaction.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare expects to ramp up to administering 1,000 vaccinations per day and will have the ability to administer even more, depending on the availability of the vaccine.
They worked with city and state officials to secure space and acquire necessary approvals before they implement the drive-thru testing site.
“We realized we needed to think differently if we wanted to administer this life-saving vaccine to Lowcountry residents as quickly as possible,” McLain said. “Roper St. Francis Healthcare is known throughout the Lowcountry for providing easy access to quality healthcare, and I cannot think of a more central location for residents to access this potentially life-saving vaccine than at the Coliseum, a short drive for our patients living in North Charleston, West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville and Goose Creek and the rest of Berkeley and Dorchester counties.”
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the state’s third largest city was thrilled to partner with Roper St. Francis Healthcare to help more community members take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The North Charleston Coliseum is a perfect spot to host an ongoing COVID-19 Vaccination Drive-Thru for the Lowcountry,” Summey said. “Our team is adept at managing crowds of more than 13,000 for Coliseum events, and they easily can adapt to supporting this effort. We stand ready to support Roper St. Francis Healthcare in ensuring the safety and success of this essential initiative that will help save lives.”
They have been focused on vaccinating its teammates, medical staff and other healthcare workers. Nearly 9,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in conference rooms across its four hospitals since December 15th.