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Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center

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The Launch March 2021 Edition

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Lovell FHCC Monthly Newsletter - March 2021

A Message from Leadership ...

Captain Thomas J. Nelson, MC, USN, Deputy Director, Commanding Officer

CAPT Nelson

March 24, President Biden signed H.R. 1276 “SAVE LIVES Act” into law. Based off of this new law, we at Lovell FHCC will very soon have the opportunity to expand our efforts to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to all veterans (regardless of eligibility for VA healthcare and type of discharge), veteran spouses, certain (eligible) caregivers, overseas veterans, as well as our TRICARE recipients.

We are awaiting guidance from national VA on how the SAVES LIVES Act will be fully implemented throughout the country, but here at the FHCC we are excited to continue to fully embrace our motto of  “Readying Warriors and Caring for heroes”. 

In the meantime, veterans, caregivers, spouses, and CHAMPVA beneficiaries newly eligible under the law can go to COVID-19 vaccines at VA | Veterans Affairs to register and indicate their interest in receiving a vaccine from VA, in our case Lovell FHCC. Signing up also will give users regular updates about VA’s vaccine rollout process.

These vaccines are currently the most powerful weapon we have to date to battle the pandemic. This new law will allow us to offer the vaccination to more patients than we ever have before. Based on efficacy studies of the current vaccines available, it seems clear that the more people who receive the vaccine, the closer we’ll be to having a fully open and normal world, and we all yearn for that day, I know I do.

To all who have made the vital decision to get the vaccine -- to include those who have not yet been immunized – thank you, but your job is not done yet. We must continue wear masks when in public settings, continue with good hand hygiene practices, and most importantly we must help with education of our friends and families. The CDC has a lot of great resources to build vaccine confidence, and I encourage you to educate yourself and others using this information.

By receiving the vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself, but potentially those around you. By helping educate your friends and family regarding the vaccine, you are assisting them in doing the same.

Let's Get Social

FHCC has a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please see the links below to visit our social media sites. Below are the posts that received the highest engagement for the month.

Top Posts from March

Sailor MAP Advancements


On March 17, Lovell FHCC leadership toured the facility informing sailors of their selection for meritorious advancement.

View the photos of the sailors receiving their new insignia from a mentor of their choice, on the FHCC Facebook page, during the informal ceremony. Sailors who are selected for meritorious advancement are nominated by their leaders and are selected for their standout qualifications.

Women's History Month

Women's History  

Women at Lovell FHCC celebrated Women's History Month by sharing their own experiences that made them the women they are today.

Hear their stories on the FHCC Facebook page.

Social Work Month 

Social work  

Happy Social Work Month and thank you to our nearly 70 social workers here at Lovell FHCC! These dedicated professionals can be found throughout Lovell FHCC.

You can view photos of our Social Work Team and read why this was the career choice for them on the FHCC Facebook page.

Certified Nurses Day

Certified Nurses Day  

In honor of Certified Nurses Day, some of our FHCC certified nurses got together briefly for a photo, with hospital director Dr. Robert Buckley, in front of the FHCC Nursing Honor Wall.

See the photos and reach the comments by leadership on the FHCC Facebook page.

Lovell FHCC Mobilizes Vaccine Team for Vets in Need


Army veteran Mark Milton, resident at TLS New Horizons, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from a Lovell FHCC staff member. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Minh-Thy H. Chu

Story by: Jayna Legg, Public Affairs Specialist.

Originally posted to FHCC Facebook March 4, 2021

HEBRON, Ill. -- Former soldier David Whitfield considers himself lucky to be a veteran these days.

The Army veteran recently went from having “nowhere to go” in Chicago after breaking up with a long-time girlfriend to living in a comfortable apartment complex in a pastoral setting far from the city. The other people residing in his building are fellow veterans, and better yet, he received his first COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 24 without even stepping outside his building.

“I’m extremely happy to get the vaccine, because of all the dangers” said the soft-spoken father of three and grandfather of 15. “I probably wouldn’t have got it if not for the VA, because of my procrastination. I was really happy to get it.”

Whitfield transferred his VA health care to Lovell FHCC, the nation’s only fully integrated Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense health care facility, when he moved to Transitional Living Services (TLS) New Horizons in Hebron, Ill. New Horizons is the VA Homeless Providers Grant & Per Diem provider for Lovell FHCC and houses homeless veterans temporarily, until they can find jobs and permanent housing.

Whitfield was a utilities equipment repairman. He served three years on active duty at Ft. Hood, in the 1st Cavalry Division, and another three years in the Army Reserve. He then went on to work for the VA and the U.S. Postal Service.

Moving to New Horizons after being homeless for a year was “a relief,” Whitfield said. “I can lay my head down every night in a stable environment."

Continue reading the full story on the FHCC Facebook page, and make sure to like our page to see more stories like it.

Lovell's All-Hands Effort

VAX efforts

Story and photos by: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Minh-Thy Chu.
Originally posted to FHCC Facebook March 22, 2021

The extraordinary and ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center has brought out the best in staff, many who volunteered to create a formidable team dedicated to one thing – getting shots in the arms of every staff member and as many of the FHCC’s veteran, military and military dependent patients as possible.

From the late December day the first Moderna vaccines were delivered with fanfare to the North Chicago hospital, it became apparent that what would typically be done through the Immunizations Clinic was too big of an operation for the limited clinical staff.

“We knew we had to stand up a group of people to basically volunteer to be vaccinators,” said FHCC Assistant Director of Plans and Operations Kathleen Kennedy.

FHCC Gastroenterology Nurse Manager April Shaw was given the task to manage staff volunteers who would be running the staff vaccination clinic. This team dedicated six weeks to COVID-19 vaccinations for staff in the Family Practice Clinic. By the end of the seventh week, 73 percent of staff were vaccinated, including VA and Department of Defense employees.

Chief of Pharmacy Laurie Noschese and Regional Immunizations Program Manager Randy Tolbert were the two COVID-19 vaccine coordinators tasked to deploy staff vaccines. The two were provided support from the team of volunteers including nurses, pharmacy employees, and medical support assistants.

As the clinic became busier, more administrative staff volunteered to manage the “flow” of the clinic, checking people in, handing out paperwork, and scheduling second dose appointments. This allowed clinical staff to focus on their medical roles - vaccinating and observing those who had received the vaccine. Volunteers also helped MSAs schedule appointments over the phone, in some cases quadrupling the amount of calls they would be able to make alone. According to Kennedy, there was never a shortage of willing volunteers to help the COVID-19 vaccination effort.

“COVID-19 operations have the ability to unify everyone as a team,” she said. “It’s something we all live through at work and at home. People really understand the significance of what they’re doing.”

At one point during staff vaccinations, a roving team of vaccinators and other volunteers brought the COVID-19 vaccine to Lovell FHCC Branch Clinics at Recruit Training Command and Naval Station Great Lakes, allowing staff members the convenience of getting vaccinated near their work sites, rather than at the main hospital. The ability to offer this option displayed the flexibility of the vaccination team, Kennedy added. Since the vaccine was made available to FHCC Community Living Center residents first and then to outpatients in mid-January, the team has made similar trips to vaccinate staff and patients at Lovell FHCC’s Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Evanston, Kenosha and McHenry. The CBOCs don’t currently have the capacity to operate their own COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

The start of outpatient vaccinations dramatically increased the clinic’s operations, from an average of 100 daily immunizations to about 250 a day. With this change, the clinic began relying more on administrative volunteers to keep the area organized and Facility Management staff to ensure the area was safe.

Continue reading about the all hands vaccination efforts at Lovell by visiting our FHCC Facebook page.

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Veterans Health Administration · 810 Vermont Avenue, NW · Washington, DC 20420 · 877-222-VETS (877-222-8387)