Henry County Health Department Mass Prophylaxis Exercise Uses Drive-through Clinic

Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter
November 2007

Gary Maitlen
Local Public Health Coordinator
Henry County Health Department

Stephanie English, MPH
ISDH Field Epidemiologist, District 6

On October 2, the Henry County Health Department (HCHD) exercised its mass prophylaxis plan using an inventive drive-through clinic.  Clinic volunteer staff distributed M&M’s® candy “medications” and informational packets to each participant that came through the drive-through line.  People were encouraged to participate as many times as they wanted to help ensure the exercise would have a good volume of traffic flow.  Participants were allowed to pick up “medications” for up to eight family members per vehicle.

Throughput data

Total number of participant forms:  230
Total number of individuals served:  596
Estimated total number of vehicles through the exercise:  210-225


Throughput Time
Average Time from Station #1 to
Station #3: 5.56 Minutes

Individuals served per form: Average = 2.6
(25 cars were assessed randomly)
Breakdown by number of individuals per form:
Breakdown in nearest one-minute

General Observations

The age and gender numbers generally reflected the individuals who were more available to participate from 2-5 p.m. and are more skewed to older and female participants than to the general population.  Many city employees participated, since the Mayor authorized them to go through during working hours.  There were no overly busy intervals noted at any time.  Although the exercise had been promoted directly to all the high schools in the county hoping to attract those young drivers when they left school, a smaller group of teenage drivers participated than was expected.

The number of individuals served per form is greatly skewed toward the low end due to some obvious factors.  First, people did not really plan to pick up medications for extended family, friends, or neighbors because they were not prompted or instructed to do so ahead of time.  In a real situation, that would occur more frequently.  Also, for various reasons, the child-rearing age groups were not well represented in the exercise participants.

The throughput time for participants is a good estimate for what would really be needed for this type of medication distribution, and most vehicles could go through the stations in 4-6 minutes, with an actual throughput time of 30 seconds or less.  If all three drive-through dispensing sites plus the one walk-through dispensing site were used, the HCHD would be able to dispense medication to the entire county population of 48,000 within the 48-hour guideline.

HCHD is willing to share the traffic flow for the drive-through clinic.  Please contact Gary Maitlen, local public health coordinator, at lphchenry@isdh.in.gov or 765.686.1101.