Carson City flu clinic helps prepare for crisis | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City flu clinic helps prepare for crisis

Teri Vance
Special to the Appeal

Editor's Note: This is one is a series of articles, Partners for Success, highlighting the agencies that make up Partnership Carson City, an alliance of resources dedicated to creating a healthy community.

Between working two jobs and caring for her pets, Trudi Gaye doesn't have much free time.

"When I do have time, I want to spend it with my animals," she said.

So when she heard about the drive-up flu clinic offered by Carson City Health and Human Services, she didn't hesitate to participate.

"They made it so convenient," she said. "I had two of my dogs in the car and just got it over with. Then we could go hiking."

While the clinic was a service to Gaye — and the hundreds of other residents who were able to receive a vaccination without even getting out of their cars — the recipients also provided a service to the health department.

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"It was an exercise of how quickly we would be able to disseminate a lot of medicine for a lot of people in an emergency," said Jeanne Freeman, public health preparedness manager for Carson City Health and Human Services. "It was a good collaboration with state and city agencies. It wouldn't have been possible without them."

Set up in the parking lot of the Nevada Department of Transportation last month, the health department took the lead in the training exercise.

"We're using it from the perspective of vaccinations," Freeman said. "The process could be used not only for vaccinations, but also other forms of medication distribution."

The same training is useful for other agencies that would be called on to help in cases of natural disasters or biochemical hazards.

"If the water supply were contaminated or if people didn't have access to food because of an earthquake, the process could be used to distribute food, water, blankets, supplies or other materials," Freeman said.

While exercises like this have been executed in the past, it's been about four years since the last one.

"On our end, our entire staff is new," Freeman said. "It's important for us to practice and see where our strengths are and our weaknesses."

The type of crisis would determine which agency took the lead. Those participating in October's exercise included Emergency Management, the Carson City Sheriff's Office, Medical Reserve Corps, Community Emergency Response Team, public works and volunteers from the HOSA program at Carson High School.

Meeting one another and learning to work well together is part of the process.

"It's important because as agencies we do work together on some projects, but we don't necessarily do this type of event," said Lauren Staffen, public health preparedness planner. "Having a full-scale exercise like this where everybody is there allows us to learn who everyone is and what they do rather than waiting until you're in the middle of an emergency."

Public Health Preparedness is one of several divisions within Carson City Health and Human Services.

The agency is one of several that make up Partnership Carson City, a coalition dedicated to creating a healthy community.

"Carson City Health and Human Services' mission is to protect and improve the quality of life for our community," said Director Nicki Aaker. "It takes many organizations to accomplish this. We are very appreciative of our partnerships that help us make Carson City a better place to live, work and play."

For information, go to gethealthycarsoncity.org and pcccarson.org.