Visit the Jefferson County Health Department website to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine or get current info on vaccine clinics. If you do not have computer access, dial 2-1-1 to get information about vaccine clinics.
Featured image (above): Robyn Lance, a nurse practitioner who has been volunteering with the Jefferson County Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Ranson.
“We could not do this without these volunteers,” says Dr. Terrence Reidy, head of the Jefferson County Health Department. This sentiment is echoed by everyone else working with the Jefferson County Health Department to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Ranson Civic Center. “The Mayor and the city staff, the police from around the County, the National Guard, all of these government organizations have pitched in,” said Gillian Beach of the Health Department. But she noted it has been the involvement of private organizations and individual volunteers that enabled the Health Department to scale up to provide hundreds of vaccines each day.
The Jefferson County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) has played a key role in bringing these pieces together to support the Health Department. Michele Goldman, a registered nurse, helped organize the local COAD several years ago, building on her decade of experience running the Eastern Panhandle Clinic in Ranson. She describes the COAD as a collection of the many private and faith-based organizations that serve the community in very specific ways. She noted the COAD focuses on planning for emergency needs and identifying how each of these member organizations can plug in to fill specific needs in a coordinated manner when the need arises. “There is always a lot of effort, but it works much better if there is good communication between all of the groups and you can prioritize and avoid overlaps.”
A Pivot to Process
Prior to the pandemic, the Jefferson County COAD had focused on natural disaster emergencies, like floods or tornadoes, that require localized relief and logistics. When the pandemic hit, Goldman was already participating in the regular Homeland Security conference calls with the County’s emergency management leaders. She observed “the chaos of COVID affected all the local community organizations and there was a real need to connect needs with resources. At first we focused on PPE (personal protective equipment) and geared up a mask supply effort for the Eastern Panhandle. Then we focused on food distribution.” As the attention turned to the vaccine rollout, “we knew we would need lots of different talents, especially in logistics and administration.” Clearly the planning effort has paid off, as the public comments about how smoothly the process runs each day are overwhelmingly positive.
A Community Comes Together
In the Ranson Civic Center, each clinic day starts off with an all-hands meeting of volunteers and coordinators. Even though some of the volunteers have been serving for many weeks, each day’s team is different. While many of the volunteers are strangers to each other, there is a sense of community and common purpose that grows each day. The common refrain, voiced by Robyn Lance, Nurse Practitioner who is volunteering when she is not working her regular job — “if I can make a difference, I’m happy to do my part.”
Thank the Volunteers!
The small staff of the Jefferson County Health Department is supported by the many volunteers who stepped forward to assist. The Observer spoke with just a few of the dozens of people who are serving, some multiple times each week.Staff Contributor