Duncan wins NIHB award for flu shot effort
Southern Plains Tribal Health Board Chairwoman Marty Wafford, left, and SPTHB Executive Director Nick Barton, right, present Lt. Randi Duncan, an occupational health nurse at W. W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, a National Indian Health Board Local Impact Award on Jan. 14 for her effort to improve influenza vaccination rates. The Cherokee Nation citizen was one of 18 people to receive such an award during the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board quarterly meeting in Shawnee. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Lt. Randi Duncan, an occupational health nurse with the U.S. Public Health Service at W. W. Hastings Hospital, received a National Indian Health Board Local Impact Award on Jan. 14 for her effort to improve influenza vaccination rates.
The Cherokee Nation citizen was one of 18 individuals who received 3-inch-by-5-inch glass awards during the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board quarterly meeting in Shawnee. The awards acknowledge individuals whose work has affected change or impacted health care on the local or tribal level.
Duncan led an effort in 2018 to provide flu vaccines to employees at Hastings Hospital. The endeavor achieved a 97% vaccination rate, according to the NIHB. The NIHB also stated that she promoted health maintenance among underserved populations, which resulted in vaccinating 2,269 patients and reducing the risk of flu-related deaths by 40%.
“I read the email about 10 times before I even realized what had happened,” Duncan said about learning in November that she earned the honor. “And honestly, winning an award for doing something that I love didn’t seem merited. I love the people I care for, and feel very privileged to have even been nominated.”
Duncan said she learned on Jan. 14 that former Principal Chief Bill John Baker nominated her for the award in July. He left office on Aug. 14.
“The presenter of the award read my bio at the ceremony and stated that I was nominated by former Principal Chief Bill John Baker,” she said. “I would like to believe that I was nominated because of our employee flu vaccination rate and for my work planning and operating the community flu clinic held at W.W. Hastings, which vaccinated 2,269 patients in 2018 and 2,532 patients in 2019.”
She said the Hastings Hospital employee vaccination rate in 2018 was 97% and 97.8% in 2019. She added that as an occupational health nurse, her job is to ensure hospital employees have the safest work environment possible, which includes being protected against influenza and other infectious diseases.
“The Cherokee Nation W. W. Hastings Hospital staff are committed to providing competent, safe care which makes providing their flu vaccinations easy,” Duncan said. She added that the hospital has received Oklahoma Hospital Association recognition for employee flu vaccination rate since 2017. In 2019, Hastings was one of 47 hospitals in the state to receive recognition for employee influenza vaccination rates, she said.
“I have been the occupational health nurse at W.W. Hastings since September 2015 and have participated in or led community-wide efforts to vaccinate against the flu since 2015,” Duncan said. “Get your flu shot. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are at an increased risk of having complications due to influenza, and that is something that most of us aren’t aware of.”
Duncan said she’s been in the medical field since age 18, working as a pharmacy technician while attending school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern State University in 2009, and an associate degree in nursing from Connors State College in 2012.
She began her nursing career in 2012 at Tahlequah City Hospital, now Northeastern Health System Tahlequah, and worked there until 2014. She began working as a part-time registered nurse at Hastings in 2013 before joining full time in 2014. Also in 2014, she earned her bachelor of science in nursing degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing. She was commissioned as an officer with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in December 2015.