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County response to H1N1 impressive


To the Editor:

On behalf of the Lapeer County Board of Health, I would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to Lapeer County for an impressive community response to the H1N1 outbreak that occurred this fall.

With the downsizing of the Lapeer County Health Department, this H1N1 response was truly a robust community effort. The Health Department provided information, monitored disease activity and coordinated vaccine administration.

Lapeer Regional Medical Center worked hand-in-hand with the Health Department to report illness, facilitate testing, supply antiviral medications and provide vaccine to new parents. Employers provided regular updates for their employees. Roger's Pharmacy agreed to dispense federal antiviral medication as needed. The Tri-City Times and other area newspapers ran regular articles and updates. Schools and child care centers reported student illness levels and supported handwashing and other hygiene measures to reduce transmission and to help measure the level of influenza locally.

Many community organizations used their Web sites and email list services to help keep the public informed. The Lapeer County Medical Care Facility and Ferguson's Convalescent Home administered vaccine for their staff and residents.

Over 80% of the H1N1 vaccine that was allocated to Lapeer County went to private physicians offices and pharmacies for administration, and a cadre of area physicians worked long hours to get vaccine to their most vulnerable patients. I would like to recognize Dr. Starbird, Dr. Harastani, Dr. Braniecki, Dr. Coulter, Dr. Piontkowski, Dr. Smith, Dr. Tackabury, Dr. Dharamraj, Dr. Syed, Dr. Wurster, Dr. Skindell, Dr. Bork, Dr. Mutch, Dr. Shukri, Dr. Brinker, Dr. Tangri, Dr. Davis, Dr. Bazzi, Dr. Perkins, Dr. Zielinski, Dr. Gromada, Dr. Essak, Dr. Ebert, Dr. Allen, Dr. Subnani, Dr. Go, Dr. Al Ameri, Dr. Badr, Dr. Kashlan, Dr. Foster, Dr. Sabbaq, and Dr. Ataya as well as the Meijer, Kroger and Rite Aid Pharmacies. In addition, many other local physicians referred their patients to Health Department clinics.

A group of local RN and clerical volunteers supplemented Health Department personnel to staff vaccine clinics that were held at the Health Department, including RNs Melinda Beaudry, Mary Jane Poit, Sue Reamer, Janet Ferrari, Grace Noble, Justine Speer, Darlene Wells, Yolanda Kalanquin, Phyllis Mohrman and clinic volunteers Denise Einheuser, Mary Stikeleather, Barbara Spencer, Debra Keating, Jill Haskins, Joy Hofert, Betty Keil, Diana McMullen, Dan Haskins, Steve Thomson, Nick Baron and Matt Schneider.

Health Department staff worked efficiently and courteously with the public and we heard many, many positive comments from the public about the organization and ease of vaccine administration in our clinics.

Each communicable disease response is a learning experience for our community. We believe we have a lot to be proud of and gratefully thank everyone who has contributed to a healthier community this year. Despite the difficult economic times, we believe this community engagement and cooperation bodes well for a healthy future for Lapeer County!

Sincerely,

—Stephanie Simmons, BSN, MPA

Director/Health Officer

Lapeer County

Health Department

Stephanie Simmons
February 24, 2010

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