Citizens For A Better Norwood

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Behind the scenes at Saturday’s open H1N1 flu clinic at X.U.

Guest blog by Pamela Walker-Bauer

Cincinnati and Norwood health department staff and scores of volunteers vaccinated almost 1,000 people against the 2009 H1N1 virus at Xavier University’s Cintas Center this past Saturday, December 19, 2009. We could have easily vaccinated 5,000 individuals without being overly taxed. On hand, we had 8,000 doses available and could have gathered more vaccine if needed. Unfortunately, the first accumulation of measurable snow likely kept many away and perhaps some last minute holiday shopping.

Previously, an exercise in July 2008 tested the plan to use the Cintas Center facility as a point of dispensing for antibiotics (pill-form) with many lessons learned. This past Saturday’s event was the first test of the plan to use Cintas as a distribution point for vaccine. Vaccine distribution is an entirely different event as it is more labor intensive requiring licensed medical personnel to administer the injection or mist form. Unfortunately, vaccine administration is the easiest part of such an event; Getting to the point where we can administer the vaccine is the difficult part. Days and weeks went into final preparation for this event.

Even though we were not fully taxed, we learned many valuable lessons on Saturday. I cannot go into great detail because the information is sensitive as we would not want terrorists to know our weaknesses. What I would like to do is to tell you how Norwood was represented at this event.

Several Norwood Health Department staff members dedicated their last Saturday morning before Christmas to work at this clinic. Health Inspector, Dale Marshall was a key logistic player in handling vaccine flow and inventory. Public Health Nurses, Chandra Corbin and Betsy Nabors arrived extra early to prepare the vaccine for distribution by filling syringes with vaccine and later staffed an “express” vaccination table; this was in addition to the many hours they had already dedicated to the H1N1 mass vaccination campaign. We also had two of our temporary contract nurses working- with one staffing the screening table and the other, a family vaccination table.

Three Norwood Law Enforcement officials - Lieutenant Tom Williams, and Officers Price and Vickers -helped provide security for the event; Lieutenant Williams was actually in charge of security for the entire event. (At one point during the planning stages, Lt. Williams said, “Pam, don’t worry about security. I’ve got it covered.” I can’t begin to tell you how comforting that was to me.) These gentlemen were courteous, respectful, and professional to everyone and represented the City of Norwood well; I was most proud to serve beside them!

We had numerous volunteers. We had some Citizens on Patrol folks who were ready and willing to help. We even had a highly experienced Medical Reserve Corps volunteer and former health commissioner, Donna Laake, who volunteered her Saturday afternoon to help staff an “express” vaccination table!

Behind all of this was Mayor Williams who granted his blessing for this event to take place and pledged his support for anything we needed and Service Safety Director Geers who provided us with the tools we needed to make it all happen. I should not fail to mention, Brenda Osterday, the Mayor’s secretary who took my numerous pesky phone calls and Asst. Law Director, Chris Brown, who made sure all of our “I”s were dotted and our “T”s were crossed.

As you can see, it takes many people to put this all together. Norwood does public health and community service the right way. Once again, even after nearly 7 months of service as your health commissioner, I am still very happy to be here. And by the way, I was the Public Information Officer (PIO) at this event…which in my opinion translates to…“STAND IN THE CORNER, GET OUT OF THE WAY, and LET US DO OUR JOBS!!”

Pamela Walker-Bauer, MPH, RS
Norwood Health Commissioner