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Health: Service and Shots with a Smile


By: Kim Hasty

Photography by: Lisa Thompson

Chris Tart was on the move one recent morning. Already, his staff was running low on Pfizer vaccine inoculations, and he was among those helping to hurry over a fresh supply in this pharmacy-driven effort.

Good thing Tart and the pharmacy team he oversees were already ahead of the game by the time COVID-19 vaccines arrived at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in December. Their lives have been hectic ever since.

“We knew this was coming,” said Tart, PharmD, a Sampson County native who, as vice president of professional services, is responsible for pharmacy, respiratory, laboratory and imaging services in the health system. “We went ahead and purchased three deep freezers, even though we were told we didn’t have to. That’s one of the smartest things we did.”

They were ready, willing and able when those first vaccines arrived. And since then, they’ve been delivering the protective vaccines into nearly a thousand arms a day. All day, five days a week, his pharmacy staff spends the day drawing up doses.

“We’re tied with Duke,” he said.

They are even able to help the Cumberland County Health Department by storing its supply of vaccines for the residents who have received inoculations at the Crown Expo off U.S. 301.

Best of all for those receiving the vaccine, Tart and his staff are committed to making sure that when it’s your turn, your experience is a pleasant one. They put a premium on delivering service with a smile. Most everyone who has received the vaccine describes the process as smooth and friendly.

That’s because Tart has constructed a team with friendliness in mind. And they’ve worked hard to streamline a process that lets you know they care about you and your time. They know you’re busy. They know you might have concerns about the vaccine.

They believe in treating you with respect and care.

“We’re customer-service driven,” he said. “We believe in smiling faces and talking to people. I’d rather have someone with good people skills over a warm body with a license. It’s been a good experience. People are so thankful, and that makes it all worth it.”

The COVID-19 health pandemic has affected more than 23 million in the United States since March of 2020 and resulted in more than 400,000 deaths. There are more than 675,000 cases in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, with more than 8,000 deaths. In Cumberland County, according to the state, 18,000 cases have been recorded with more than 150 deaths.

Vaccines were first available to health care providers and to those 75 and older. Then those 65 and over were made eligible. But something you may not know: Tart says no matter your age, you can go ahead and register at www.capefearvalley.com/coronavirus/vaccine-scheduler.aspx.

This ensures your information will be recorded in the state database, and you’ll have less paperwork to fill out when it is your turn to receive the vaccine. Stay up to date on the current vaccine rollout phase by checking that site and the Cape Fear Valley Health Facebook page.

“I think we’ve done a great job planning and organizing,” Tart said. “And the state has done a great job getting us doses and keeping us updated on the phases.”