Critical partnerships help keep TCOM students on rotation and vaccinated

By Steven Bartolotta

Tcom Students At Covid Testing Site Unthsc

There has always been a unique bond between the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and the JPS Health Network, two medical powerhouses in Fort Worth. Scores of TCOM students roam the hospital on a daily basis doing critical rotations and learning from some of the best physicians in the country.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that bond was put to the ultimate test, but through collaborative efforts, these partners have become even closer.

TCOM third- and fourth-year students regularly call JPS home during their rotations. As the pandemic spread, TCOM students shifted to a virtual platform for their rotations. In September, TCOM students returned to JPS facilities for rotations in a small pilot group. By late October, the students were back to full capacity with roughly 75 students per month rotating at JPS.

Once vaccines received approval, distributions to medical facilities around the country began in earnest. HSC leadership, while awaiting its own shipment, knew where to turn.

“When it was announced that COVID-19 vaccines were available, we immediately reached out to several of our healthcare system partners to offer our assistance in vaccine administration by our students” said Dr. Mark Chassay, HSC’s Senior Vice Provost and Chief Clinical and Medical Officer. “In reciprocity, JPS Health offered vaccine to our students involved in patient care at its institution.”

“We at JPS value our students and our partnership with all our academic partners, including our long-standing relationship with the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Dr. Tricia Elliott, the Chief Academic Officer at JPS. “Our students are an integral part of our healthcare team and ensuring their health and safety, along with the health and safety of all our team members and patients, are of utmost priority for us.”

In addition to assistance from JPS, the Tarrant County Medical Society (TCMS) and Executive Director Brian Swift was instrumental in the early stages of the pandemic providing PPE to TCOM students, local physicians and residents.

It wasn’t just PPE that the students had a hand in volunteering to distribute. Early in April, the TCMS was asked to help organize contact tracing and immediately turned to TCOM to help fill those spots.

“One of the first things we did and were asked to do was to help coordinate contact tracing. We become very involved in helping Tarrant County Public Health recruit volunteers to,” said Swift. “TCMS worked closely with TCPH to get them up and running and the students were the ones helping.”

Now with the vaccine being distributed, the TCMS has been a vital source of information for TCOM students. For TCOM students wanting to continue their rotations, the vaccines were vital, but how do you procure over 400 vaccines quickly?

“Weeks ago, we started working with Kroger, Albertsons, Tom Thumb to start getting vaccines and the information out to those who needed them,” said Swift.

Swift and TCMS worked closely with Dr. Chassay and TCOM Dean Dr. Frank Filipetto, to provide students with up-to-date information on where they could get a vaccine, how to register and get an appointment.

“Once again Brian Swift and Tarrant County Medical Society offered assistance to our students,” said Dr. Chassay. “Early in the pandemic, they provided much needed personal protective equipment for our students and providers. With their available COVID-19 vaccine network that Brian and his team devised with local pharmacies across North Texas, we were able to begin administration to students and clinical providers involved in patient care.”

With COVID-19 showing no signs of relenting, the strong bonds forged in the Fort Worth medical community continue to grow stronger and will benefit Fort Worth in the future.

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