Alberta adopts the Grey Bruce ‘Hockey Hub’ immunization concept

            Individual patient pods – Owen Sound ‘Hockey Hub’
                                                              Hanover Hockey Hub immunization clinic

The Grey Bruce ‘Hockey Hub’ immunization solution continues to move across the country and beyond.

Recently, the ‘hockey hub’ concept that moved to Manitoba has now moved to Alberta where they adapted the idea in Red Deer.

                       (Heather Marcoux) Entering Red Deer ‘Hockey Hub’ immunization clinic


Upon entering the site, clients follow similar protocols to what’s done at most vaccine clinics: people are asked screening questions at the door, sanitize their hands and change their masks before being checked in by registration staff.

In a traditional immunization clinic, a client would then wait to be called to a station. After getting the shot, the client heads to a different area to wait for 15 minutes before leaving.

“All of that takes time, and it also means the clients are in a number of different spaces through the clinic,” said Thain Liptak, Executive Director in Alberta Health Services Central Zone.

As in Grey Bruce under the new model, patients are stationary while staff come to them.

Clients are directed to a “pod” where they have time to take off their coats, roll up their sleeves and review information about the vaccine. That way, by the time the immunizer, usually a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse and an administrative staff member called a scribe, arrive with their supplies on rolling carts, the patient is ready.

Formerly, a nurse would complete all the documentation but, in the ‘Hockey hub’ concept,  they can focus on giving the shot while the ‘scribe’ does the paperwork, which the immunizer reviews and signs. After getting their shots, the clients remain seated in the pod for the 15-minute waiting period to ensure there are no adverse affects.

Once the client leaves, cleaners sanitize the pod for the next person. Behind the scenes, other staff prepare vaccine and provide information to people waiting in line.

The Red Deer site has 48 pods, which are divided into four groups, each with one immunizer and scribe team moving through it.

“That gives us the capacity of about 1,000 immunizations a day in a 12-hour clinic,” says Liptak.

If more vaccine supply becomes available and more staff is added, the site has the capability of expanding and could immunize up to 2,300 people a day.

Liptak said the goal is for the immunizer to spend about three minutes with each client, but it can take up to five, usually dependent on the age of the patient. In a normal setting, the expectation was that each immunizer could see six people in an hour while the new model is allowing for more than double that per hour and using fewer staff.

The province tested the new concept on March 25th. Hoping to give 20,000 doses in one day, 900 does were processed in eight hours.

While they adopted the overall method from Ontario (Grey Bruce), they were unable to move as quickly.  In Ontario, clients complete the immunization and consent screening forms electronically before they even arrive at the clinic. In Alberta, however, the practice is still done in person at the clinics, which adds time to the process.

According to Liptak, other provincial jurisdictions are looking to incorporate elements of the Red Deer model, but space and staffing limitations mean that it could look different in different venues