A Rural Community in the Middle of Texas
Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is a local public health entity with 57 employees who serve a county jurisdictional population of around 138,000 in the middle of Texas. The ATCPHD sees an average of 110 people for infectious disease services in any given month. As the pandemic began, it brought with it a 17-fold increase in the number of people to be served each day in an extremely rapid time period. Increasing the public health workforce “overnight” was a must!
First Mass Vaccination Hub in January 2021
Although the past 18 months have taken its toll on the world and public health, one of the unexpected positive outcomes of the pandemic has been the new relationships forged and old relationships strengthened among our community partners here in Abilene and Taylor County. When we put word out that we needed help with our mass vaccination hub, we had over 85-90 people volunteering on any given day, creating a situation where we had to find places to put them. The overwhelming response from our pharmacy, PA and nursing schools along with retired medical personnel and those that had been displaced due to COVID layoffs came in droves to help run our hub. Each day at the hub was almost like a party. Everyone was so happy to contribute and it gave us all a sense of shared purpose. On our busiest day, staff and volunteers administered 2500 vaccines in ten hours. Seeing our own staff working alongside our allies as if in the trenches on a battlefield was almost like a beautiful yet surreal work of art.
Our pandemic response was a unified community labor of love; although it's not something we would have willingly walked into, it's an experience we wouldn't trade as the outcome of unity has made it a time we will cherish forever. As we continue through the pandemic and move forward to regain some “normalcy” in the services we provide, the “temporary” public health workforce will continue to be accessed to provide outreach in our community.