Community Crossroads Embarks on Historic Global Pandemic Response
February and March have marked a historic milestone for Community Crossroads, one in which we may not have anticipated. The agency has responded to the pandemic by organizing and implementing the first ever Community Crossroads pandemic response 2-dose vaccination clinic.
Our area agency has been represented on the South-Central Public Health Network (SCPHN) for a number of years by Angela Boyle, the agency’s Director of Oral Health who also has a Master’s in Public Health degree. SCPHN’s vision is to help surrounding communities become the healthiest and safest communities in New Hampshire by identifying public health priorities and developing solutions to improve community health and safety. The network is a collaboration of partner agencies like ours, that are working to enhance and improve community health and public health services across the region. Angela represents our agency on the network’s advisory council as well as the emergency preparedness task force.
“Our representation on the SCPHN has given us the ability to build relationships with several surrounding municipalities and local agencies who also serve our disability population in other capacities. Part of my focus was helping partners within our community understand how our population may need support in different ways if an emergency ever arose,” Angela said. Many in our population experience more complex medical and behavioral needs, and can be at a higher risk of getting ill, more serious complications if they do acquire the disease and longer to recover than others.
Strategizing, planning and logistical implementation of a closed point of dispensing (Closed POD) and mobile strike teams paid off significantly for the agency during this pandemic. Through this partnership with the SCPHN and local community partners such as Atkinson Country Club, South Central Medical Reserve Corp and local Community Emergency Response Teams, we were able to directly vaccinate 232 individuals, families, home care providers and support staff. “We spent a lot of time discussing what would need to be done to best protect the population we support and having everyone on the same page working together is really what it takes. We believe we accomplished that through the Closed POD and mobile team approach”, Angela noted. “These partnerships gave respective volunteers a glimpse of our disability population needs and the importance of building a healthy and safe community for which they reside,” she added.
Colleen Monks, a Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for SCPHN agreed that partnerships are crucial when it comes to a task such as this one. “It is between the partnership with the Public Health Network and Community Crossroads. Our partnerships with the fire department and the Atkinson Country Club. To have so many people on the same page and working together is what it takes,” Colleen said.
This could not have been possible without the agency’s leadership making this a priority for our individuals and their families. Critical to this effort, is the support of our service coordination department who worked endlessly until all individuals, family members and caregivers who met qualifications were identified and connected to our clinic. “A big thank you goes out to the entire agency for offering key team members to support our onsite screening, vaccination teams, observation and the various clinic floaters. Families were so appreciative and relieved to see so many of our staff around the clinic, and our individuals were excited to be reunited with some of the service coordinators, even if for only a short time,” Angela said.
“The day was filled with joy, relief and appreciation. It was also quite humbling in that we laughed, cried and shared such hope and relief with families and loved ones” Angela Boyle said while describing the closed vaccination clinic that took place in February and March. Most states have “county health departments” but New Hampshire is unique in that outside of the state’s own Division of Public Health, we have only two local public health departments that exist in the state’s most populated cities like Manchester and Nashua. As a result, our state often utilizes 13 Public Health Networks which are made up of a network of collaborative community partners within the respective regions that focus on keeping populations residing in those regions safe and healthy. During this pandemic, the state has relied on all the public health networks and their partners to provide that emergency response to the pandemic in order to ensure New Hampshire is able to deliver appropriate medical countermeasures such as vaccinations.
Although the clinics are completed, a constant scanning of the most accurate and available information is still needed so that families have the correct guidance and protocols needed to keep their homes and loved ones safe. So much is happening around the state as it relates to this pandemic and the safety and wellness guidance changes so frequently, it often leads to much confusion. We try to create and post the most accurate and latest information on our website and social media so that families have a reliable source to go to. Throughout the year we have also heavily focused on ongoing training for agency staff so that they understand the basic science of the current issues and have knowledge and awareness to perform their roles in supporting families remotely.
“I am proud of the successful efforts and relieved that our families can now breathe a sigh of relief as the year moves forward” Angela concluded.
Angela Boyle, Director of Oral Health and Masters in Public Health