Pennsylvania Hospital’s unusual venue brings the celebration to vaccination

There are many elements of our “new normal” that most of us couldn’t have imagined before the start of the pandemic. For the 400 people rolling up their sleeves each day at Philadelphia’s Theatre of the Living Arts (TLA), getting a COVID-19 vaccination in a concert venue while surrounded by gold chandeliers and purple curtains likely makes that list.

Marquee outside the Theatre of Living Arts that reads PENN MEDICINE COVID-19 VACCINES NO WALKUPS with masked people standing on sidewalk outside.
Image: Courtesy of Penn Medicine News.

When Pennsylvania Hospital leadership began looking for a neighborhood site where they could set up a vaccine clinic, they quickly found a valuable and enthusiastic partner in Live Nation, which manages the TLA. Live Nation had already been using other Philadelphia venues like The Met and The Fillmore for food distribution and COVID-19 testing, and dedicating a space where Philadelphians could receive their vaccines was the clear next step. Amanda Melchiore, operations manager of PAH’s South Street Clinic at the TLA, often feels like her team is fighting the coronavirus on the set of “Beauty and the Beast”—but while the location may be unorthodox, the site has been operating like a well-oiled machine since opening in mid-February.

Running the clinical side are reassigned nurses who normally work in PAH’s infusion center, emergency department, med-surg and behavioral health units, or in Women’s Health, as well as pharmacists, nursing students from Villanova, Drexel, Rutgers, Holy Family University, and the Community College of Philadelphia, and instructors from Penn Nursing. Meanwhile, 65 rotating volunteers—family members of staff, college students, and people associated with the South Street business community—help to streamline the registration process and direct traffic. Together, their extraordinary efforts made it possible for more than 20,000 Philadelphians to get vaccinated by mid-April.

“Out of all the things I’ve been involved with in my time working at PAH, I’ve never been part of a team that is so forward-thinking and creative,” Melchiore said. “It’s just really amazing to watch people with such varied experiences come together and work toward one united mission. Everyone has banded together to take on something that’s out of the comfort zone and to create a positive patient experience.”

Indeed, positive vibes have become a key feature of the clinic. Even as staff have navigated challenges like transitioning from Moderna to Pfizer and back again depending on drug availability and patients’ needs, the mood is one of excitement, rather than stress.

This story is by MaryKate Wust. Read more at Penn Medicine News.