Health Department: Thanks for help with H1N1

With the help of many in the community, the Health Department has made progress toward providing H1N1 flu vaccination to residents of El Paso County. So many individuals and organizations have pitched in time, equipment, resources, facilities and support for this vital effort! On behalf of the El Paso County Board of Health and the Health Department staff, I want to thank everyone who has participated. We couldn’t do it without our community.

Through the Health Department’s five large H1N1 flu clinics in the community, 8,262 individuals were vaccinated. In total, more than 150,000 doses of H1N1 flu vaccine have been provided in the community, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment anticipates having adequate supplies going forward.

The Health Department has been preparing for the likelihood of a new pandemic for several years, and we realize that no one agency or organization can protect our community alone. It takes a community response. It is our mission at the Health Department to protect and promote public health and environmental quality in our community through people, prevention and partnerships. Let me tell you about just a few of those people and partnerships that have helped to prevent and limit the spread of H1N1 flu.

Thanks to these and many more

Community volunteers, who performed many duties, including traffic and line control. All of our employees were needed to plan and conduct these five large community clinics, and after budget and staff cuts in recent years, our staff simply wasn’t enough. In fact, the Health Department had to curtail or shut down its normal operations to offer these clinics.

El Paso County and Colorado Springs offices of emergency management, which provided expertise, equipment, resources and staffing, from the planning stages through to the five clinics.

School Districts 11 and 2 provided facilities at Coronado High School and Harrison High School, respectively, for the Health Department to hold H1N1 flu vaccination clinics in early November.

New Life Church and The Hangar in Fountain provided their facilities for two more Health Department clinics later in November.

The Citadel provided a large storefront for our Dec. 5 clinic.

Penske Truck Leasing and the U.S. Olympic Training Center provided transportation for staff and equipment to several clinic locations to preserve onsite parking for the public.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Office provided its Mobile Command Post at clinic locations to give leadership space to gather, exchange information and communicate with our staff and the community.

Colorado Springs Police Department and Fountain Police Department, which provided traffic control at several locations.

American Medical Response (AMR), which had ambulances and medical teams on site at each clinic to assist with members of the public who might have had difficulties.

The El Paso County Medical Society’s Medical Reserve Corps, which provided medical staff.

Many entities helped the Health Department in providing timely and accurate information to the public, including the news media, Pikes Peak United Way’s 2-1-1 Health and Human Services phone line, and the Crisis Communications Network, an association of public information and public affairs professionals from the city and county, the military and other service and support organizations.

Going forward

The Health Department created two other convenient options for H1N1 vaccination in mid-December: A clinic at The Citadel, using a storefront and staffed by nurses from the Visiting Nurse Association, and mobile vaccinations available through Peak Vista Community Health Centers and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. These two options will continue while demand exists. Please visit the Health Department’s Web site, www.elpasocountyhealth.org for current information. Also, individual medical providers and many pharmacies are vaccinating their patients using H1N1 flu vaccine provided by the Health Department.

H1N1 flu still is circulating in the community, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination still is very important to protect you, your family and our community. For more information about H1N1 flu and where to find vaccine, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org, or call 2-1-1, the Pikes Peak United Way’s Health and Human services phone line, or the toll-free Colorado Help Line at (877) 462-2911.

Kandi Buckland, R.N., M.P.A.

Executive Director, El Paso County Department of Health and Environment