ELMIRA - The team of Chemung County workers who headed the mass vaccination campaign last year for pandemic H1N1 influenza was recognized this week as a 2010 New York State Public Health Works! Honor Roll awardee. The Incident Command Team, which consists of 11 County employees, was nominated for the award by Robert Page, Chemung County Health Center Director. The team was selected based on the dedication of the workers to the field of public health and their efforts related to the planning and implementing of Chemung County's successful H1N1 response.
The team members honored include: Thomas Kump, LouAnn Lance, Linda Swarthout, Melissa Klossner, Karen Miner, Joyce Hyatt, Rebecca Becraft, Marlene Denicola, Wendy Brooks, Penny Arnold and James Larnard.
"I am very proud of the hard work and the dedication of our County employees in dealing with the response to the H1N1 pandemic last year," said Tom Santulli, Chemung County Executive. "This group prepares and maintains plans for a myriad of emergencies you hope you will never have to use. It is reassuring to know that we can successfully implement these plans should the need arise."
In his nomination submission to the State, Page noted the Team coordination with local schools and colleges, hospitals and healthcare providers, human service agencies and emergency response agencies in developing a vaccination campaign targeted initially at highest risk populations. A public education and awareness campaign was a key part of the Team's efforts with school age children being a priority for vaccination. Clinics in schools and public sites were held on 36 days with 9000 shots given. Most clinics were held in evenings or on weekends and required many added work hours for Team members on top of regular public health duties. Partnership with school and community agencies to complement public health staff was a key factor, with staffing support coming from the school districts, the Medical Reserve Corps, county departments and student nurse programs.
Public reaction to the clinics was very positive with particular praise for the short waiting times and outstanding organization. The Team demonstrated that not only could large-scale clinics be conducted with speed and efficiency, but that partnerships among community agencies were essential to an effective response to a public health emergency, added Page.
The Public Health Works! Honor Roll was established to highlight the key role local public health workers play in promoting and protecting the public's health and safety. The program is an essential component of Commissioner of Health Richard F. Daines' public health agenda to make New York one of the healthiest states in the nation.