Freeman relishes TWU’s role in battling COVID-19 virus

Tanisha Freeman, Director of Operations, Student Health Services

Jan. 29, 2021 – DENTON – Sometimes, history is made in relative obscurity. Other times, historic events become apparent the instant they happen. For Tanisha Freeman and her student health team, they knew right away that they were a part of history when they received the first shipment of vaccinations to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve received vaccines before, but this one was different,” said Freeman, director of operations for TWU’s Student Health Services (SHS). “In that moment, we felt like we were making history. We understood the weight. We felt like we were living in the legacy of being pioneers for the university.”

The worldwide pandemic has impacted millions of lives globally and the initial distribution of newly developed vaccines beginning in December 2020 was viewed by health experts as a critical step in controlling the COVID-19 virus.

Freeman led efforts and logistics through the end of 2020, during the holiday break, and into 2021 for Texas Woman’s University to become a COVID-19 vaccine provider.

“When faced with the question, ‘Do you want to provide it?’ we answered the call,” Freeman said. “It was a simple and resounding ‘Yes.’”

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The process started in October when the university learned of the opportunity. At that point, Freeman began to pursue answers for the application for COVID-19 vaccine provider enrollment.

Questions Freeman answered included the capability to store the vaccine, training requirements, credentials and certifications. She collaborated with her electronic health record vendor and the state immunizations registry system to be sure the electronic monitoring system in place would work.

Freeman also compiled and provided demographic information on the patient population that TWU would have the capability to serve, which included students, faculty and staff. Within that population was a diverse array of individuals: veterans, senior citizens, people with underlying medical conditions.

Then came the hard part. Freeman received notification that the vaccine would be delivered Dec. 23, 2020. She coordinated her staff, mostly online and through phone calls during the holidays, to prepare to begin administering the vaccine starting Jan. 5.

SHS staff the night they received the vaccine

“We did what we knew we needed to do, and we did it in a way that works for us,” Freeman recalled. “My staff has been phenomenal. It took all of us, the entire team.”

Student Health Services had to consider logistical concerns, creating space for social distancing and providing an area to monitor individuals for at least 15 minutes after they were vaccinated.

“A benefit has been that the TWU community gets to see our clinic. We’ve seen faces of people we’ve had email relationships with for years, but now we’re getting to put a face to the name,” Freeman said.

Freeman received her master’s in business administration from TWU and a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from Texas State University where she became the first Black officer for the Texas State dance team, the Strutters.

She did not choose healthcare administration as a focus until later in her collegiate career, but it is no surprise she did as the daughter of a nurse and hospital administrator.

“My second home as a child was the hospital. I have a comfort level with it and learned to keep calm and have balance from my parents,” Freeman said. “They would rehash details of their day at the hospital at the dinner table and I must have absorbed it without realizing it.”

Her passion for public health ideology inspired her to pursue the career she has now. Experience in hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico helped prepare her for the historic moment, but she also gives credit to others.

“Every aspect, minute, moment in my life and touchpoint prepared me for today,” Freeman said. “I draw from all of my experiences to do this job. And I’m thankful for all of the people who have poured into me.”

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Joshua Flanagan
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Page last updated 3:59 PM, January 29, 2021