Kaiser Taps Entertainment Mogul to Run Vaccination Site
Bill Hammond jumped at the opportunity to help out when Kaiser Permanente called and asked him to head up a Solano County vaccination site. As the owner of Hammond Entertainment, a 25-year-old event production company, he had skills and experience to get the mass operation set up efficiently, and that’s exactly what he did.
When Kaiser started receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Hammond said Senior Vice President Norair Jemjemian hit him up to see if his company could organize logistics and operations for a site that could administer 1,500 doses a day. He quickly realized his extensive background in organizing concerts, tours and star-studded charity events could be a huge asset in the vaccination effort.
“It took me all of three seconds to say, ‘Absolutely.’”
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He took a flight up to the Bay Area the next day and started scouting locations. After selecting the Solano County Fairgrounds, they were up and running just two weeks later on Feb. 5.
“We’ve done a little over 40,000 vaccines in 15 days.”
Hammond was able to handpick a crew from the entertainment industry’s cream of the crop, all of whom were pretty much sitting around at home during shutdowns. He enlisted the help of seasoned professionals like Dave Matthews’ road manager and Beyonce’s tour manager.
“The key and the catalyst has been my operations team. We’re like ninja warriors. We know how to execute, to hang banners, to do electrical, to structure social distancing, parking and security.”
Hammond and crew handle operations and logistics — setting up stations, registrations and other infrastructure — while Kaiser deals with the injections. In the process, he’s been able to hire on well over 100 local people to help keep things moving along.
The site serves all eligible Solano County residents, which he said now includes people as young as 50 years old.
The experience he and his team bring is evident in the smooth and efficient operation being widely viewed as a model.
“From the time you get out of your car in the parking lot to the time you exit is about 34 minutes.”
Unfortunately, the site isn’t open nearly as often as anyone would like due to lack of vaccine supply. Hammond hopes the situation improves soon and said the site and team are prepared for an influx. They’re currently operating day-to-day, doing anywhere from two to four days per week. They were open Thursday through Sunday of last week and averaged about 3,600 people a day.
“If the government would allot us the vaccine we needed, we would be up and running five days a week.”
His objective is to process about 4,000 shots per day once vaccine allotments increase to a level that would make that possible. The Solano County Fairground site has yet to receive any of the newly-approved vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.
While Hammond in the past has teamed up with many big names in the entertainment world, he says “the vaccine is the biggest star” he’s ever worked with.
“This is so fulfilling and gratifying to be able to employ people, to provide jobs and opportunities in an underserved market and to see that we are very proactive, that we’re doing something very positive that needs to be done in a very organized and structured manner.”
Hammond had already established a working relationship with the health care giant when they called on him to organize an empowerment series for underprivileged eighth graders in Solano County.
To Hammond, working with Kaiser is not just an honor, but he sees it as coming full circle. His father was an orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser “many years ago,” and Hammond is grateful for the opportunity to “do God’s work” for the same organization his father was an integral part of.
“It’s been very humbling and very fulfilling. I can’t say enough about this opportunity — it’s a real ‘feel good’. We’re saving lives and we’re providing jobs, and we’re in a market that really needs us.”
There are plans on the horizon to extend his team’s talents into underserved parts of Napa County, where the Latino population has been hit especially hard by the virus. He’s also open to further site ventures and is more than willing to impart some of his knowledge on other organizations as they ramp up capacity.
“I couldn’t be more honored and proud that at this time and chapter in my career that I’ve been able to really, really make a difference and do some good.”