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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 02/05/2021

Theresa Freed 00:00

Slowly but surely, Johnson County is chipping away at demand for COVID-19 vaccines. On this episode hear from Johnson County public health leaders about vaccine availability and increased efforts to distribute and communicate about the vaccine.

Announcer 00:14

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed 00:28

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go, I'm your host Theresa Freed Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County government. Johnson County continues to make progress and vaccinating those and Phase Two of the state's vaccine distribution plan. This is a big group. So the county has created additional tiers and subgroups. Since vaccines are so limited. Today we'll hear from Joe Connor, assistant county manager and Elizabeth Holzschuh Johnson County Department of Health and Environment epidemiology director about who's up next for vaccine and how to get it. This is part of a regular live update. Johnson County is broadcasting on Facebook Live Monday through Friday afternoons. The discussion is from the February 4 update.

Joe Connor 01:10

My name is Joe Connor, assistant county manager. Part of my responsibilities in my job is to is over the Department of Health and Environment. And so again here today with Elizabeth Holzschuh, she did go through a number of points that we want to try to highlight from what's happened this week, to what's going to happen next week, and then some improvements that we made into our communication system to better communicate with you. So the first thing we'll start with, with Ms. Holzschuh, and let her go through some things that have happened this week, and some more information we want to share. So Elizabeth, thank you.

Elizbeth Holzschuh 01:42

Thanks, Joe. Yeah, so we're gonna start and talk about the total number of vaccinations that we believe have been administered for COVID-19. Since the beginning of our vaccine rollout, which was started at the end of December, we have started working or we've been working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to be able to obtain this information. We know how many vaccines the Department of Health and Environment has administered. But as you know, we have a number of partners who are vaccinating members of community and so trying to obtain a better picture of what that looks like. So to start with Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has vaccinated over 20,000 individuals or have administered over 20,000 doses, I'm sorry. And if we look at the community as a whole Johnson County as a whole, it looks like there's about 32,000 people as of a couple of weeks ago, who have received at least their first dose and another 9500 who have received their second dose so are completely protected through vaccination for COVID-19. Now, these data do lag because of some data entry timing. And so we're continuing to work with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment who are working with the federal government to ensure that these data are as accurate as possible. And we will continue to be able to report this out on a weekly basis. And we're excited for that progress. In terms of this week, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment administered 3,360 vaccines. And those were across a number of our different categories within that face to tier one. We immunize this week, most of our first responders in Johnson County, so those are going to be our fire our police and our sheriff's office. And we're hoping to really complete the majority of those individuals on Monday. Although of course, anybody who was unable to receive it this week or Monday, we will continue to work in as we move forward. We also were able to administer 2500 second doses for our healthcare workers. And this is an incredibly important group, because oftentimes, they are treating patients who have COVID and are at an increased risk. We have also been able to work in some of our 80 plus population. And of course, as you've heard, and we'll talk about a little more, we've been working with our healthcare partners to also be vaccinating that 65 and up population this week as well. Right now we are starting our first K through 12 vaccination clinic. It started about two o'clock today. And so that is ongoing. And we have clinics today and tomorrow. And again, that's going to be this week for our public school staff. And that we are working those immunizations through the administration of those school districts. And next week, we'll move into our private parochial schools, the School for the Deaf, and our childcare.

Joe Connor 04:20

Thank you, Elizabeth. So let's talk about next week. Currently, I don't believe we know what vaccines we're going to be receiving for first doses next week yet we expect it to be less than we got this week for a variety of reasons, but we don't know that for sure. The one thing that we do know and are planning for is the number of people that need their second dose. That'll be a fairly high number for next week. So our clinics will be will be dealing with those that need their second dose, as well as looking at the ad and over category of those that have completed our interest survey. We continue to have a good response to our survey. We continue to try to To make sure that people do not fall through the cracks, we keep calling that data on a regular basis. And we will be contacting you once, once we have vaccine available. And we have slots in our clinic available to do that. Our vaccine clinics next week will be on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am to 1pm. And again, that'll be for those that need their second doses and the 80 plus group that that's in our interest survey system. We'll talk a little bit also about the health care system partnerships, we've had continued to have really positive meetings with the with the leadership and the communications folks from those different groups. All of the facilities in Johnson County have expressed an interest in partnering with us on that. And those they're starting to contact people and starting to schedule their own events. And then we've as we continue to provide the vaccine, they will continue to do that for us. One issue that we've talked about extensively yesterday was on the issue of equity and fairness. And I know there's been a lot of concerns and and about, you know, if I'm not part of the hospital system, am I going to be left out and how's it going to be distributed and those kind of things. And so I think there's a lot of willingness on the on the part of the hospitals to be sensitive to that, we're continuing to figure out the best way to try to measure that and make changes to ensure that we don't leave pockets of people out or don't leave geographic parts of the county out. And so we'll be continuing to work on that particular issue with our health care partners. And remember that we will continue to have clinics on a regular basis also. So if you don't feel like you're a part of a health care system, you don't feel like you have any connections or you always have a connection to us. And again, the the the vaccine interest survey will be that connection and that connection point with us. You know, we are remaining fairly consistent with guidance that we've received from the federal and state government. We still believe that it's a good model to have additional providers that help us with distributing the vaccine. And while the supply is continues to be low now, and it doesn't seem, I mean, we think our minimum capacity is way more than what we're receiving every week with our hospital partners. We're planning for the future. So we're planning to be able to say, when we receive, you know, tens of thousands of doses each week, we've got it we'll have a system in place that that will be able to be distributed quickly and effectively. Again, I don't want to harp on the issue of supply. We all know it, you know, county of 600,000 people receiving 6000 doses a week. That that's that's hard math. We hope that that that that continues to improve.

Elizbeth Holzschuh 05:05

We have a number of long term care facilities and independent living facilities in our county. Some of these independent living facilities are associated with things like assisted living or memory care, and those facilities have been included in this Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. However, if it's a freestanding, independent living facility, so sort of a senior housing type living facility, those have not been included in the federal pharmacy program. And so when we've identified that this, these individuals who are clearly at high risk for complications from Coronavirus, were really being missed in our rollout of vaccine, we've been working very hard very diligently to ensure that they are captured and that they are going to be immunized. Through this work in partnership with our commissioners and our long term care facility liaison. We have identified 24 independent living facilities, which accounts for about 1600 residents. So we're continuing to work with them and our partners to really solidify plans to ensure that we can get vaccine to them. And that may look like a mobile clinic to these individual facilities. And those plans are being solidified. As soon as we have those we will continue to share that information out.

Joe Connor 08:52

Great, thank you for that Elizabeth. The last section I want to talk about was kind of on our communications and as well as our improvements that we've made to our technology systems to hopefully better communicate with you. You know, we have a lot of room for improvement. And I think that we can we will continue to look for improvement as we go down this this path every week. We are going to continue the facebook live events for the public and the media. We think that this is a pretty effective tool to get direct feedback, you know from you on it. We've also taken our website and tried to put it into sub pages make it easier to navigate over time. We've noticed that as as the information around COVID-19 and the Coronavirus in general has come in it's getting hard to find things and so we want to we divide it up into sub pages to make it easier for you to search and hopefully easier for you to to find what you need and stay connected with us. One thing that we've heard a lot from or a lot from individual people that just not sure if they've successfully completed the the interest survey. They didn't get You know, any confirmation emails, I didn't get any feedback from us. And so one of the things that we've piloted today and we will be doing it from this day forward is a notification system that automatically generates, whether it be an email, a cell phone call, or to our text message, or, or phone call itself, to let you know that we you conclude your interest survey, we have your information, and we were able to contact you. So when we when the appointment slots come up, we will be able to, you know, get you an appointment, let you know how to schedule an appointment. The other thing that we did, internally is we have stood up a Joint Information Center. And we have staff throughout the organization that are monitoring social media and monitoring email traffic, you know, basically 12 hours a day, seven days a week for the for the current time, we also have an expanded call center, we've we've got about 15 people that are in our call center. Now with our goal to answer as many phone calls in person that we can, we also have an additional system in place with with more staff, I want to say it's in the five to seven range, that if you do leave a voicemail, we encourage you to do so if you don't, we don't get the phone picked up that those those are being routed to other people to review and respond. So again, our goal is to to quickly communicate with you and give you the information that you need, or at least let you know that at a minimum that that we've gotten your message and we will be getting back to you. So we've made those enhancements. And hopefully you'll see it you'll see the difference. We're continuing to measure that on a daily basis. And then administratively, from from the executive level, we're meeting twice a day now to monitor the different situations that we're having. So we're taking a look at what's happening in the short term with call centers, vaccination clinics, things on those matters. But we're also trying to look ahead and plan for the future when we do have and solidify our plans for the future, when we do have additional vaccines available. And make sure that what what our capacity is and how we can make decisions more quickly when those things do happen. So. So moving, moving forward, I would say we're trying to adjust to what we've heard. We're trying to adjust to the changing circumstances. And we will continue to do that. And we as always, we'd like your feedback and we'd like to be able to hear from you. So we've got a few ways to do that. And hopefully you'll continue to communicate with us

Theresa Freed 12:33

Get much more information about COVID-19 by visiting us at jocogov.org/coronavirus. And you can also get more information specifically about the vaccines by going to jocogov.org/covid-19-vaccine. Thanks for listening.

Announcer 12:50

You just heard JoCo on the Go join us next time for more everything Johnson County have a topic you want to discuss. We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast visit jocogov.org/podcast. Thanks for listening