“The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the toughest battles ever faced by health care organizations,” said Kayleigh Bondurant, Hillsboro Area Hospital infection prevention manager. “The creation and distribution of the vaccine was instrumental in getting back to some kind of normalcy.”
Senator Doris Turner hosted a press conference at Hillsboro Area Hospital on Tuesday morning, June 22, to highlight the new pilot Point of Distribution program in Illinois. The program aims to provide more COVID-19 vaccines in communities where access is limited.
Hillsboro Area Hospital is now one of nine hospitals in the state to be selected as a pilot site by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“COVID-19 vaccines are effective. They can keep you from getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Bondurant. “Getting vaccinated for yourself may also protect those around you, particularly those who are at increased risk of serious illness if they come in contact with COVID-19.”
Following Bondurant’s remarks, Hillsboro Hospital CEO Rex Brown addressed the room, advising that the day should be a celebration; however, it is not. While the hospital prepares for a potential surge, Brown encouraged the community to get vaccinated.
Montgomery County Health Department Administrator Hugh Satterlee said his department continues to strive, along with the hospital and local physicians, to distribute vaccines.
“We’re trying to think outside the box, just like the hospitals are, the doctor’s offices are,” said Satterlee. “We have to figure out ways for people to get it. It is very important and that’s not going to change.”
The health department is hosting small clinics in all municipalities, and Satterlee advised that many people do not want to travel; however, they will make the trip to a local vaccine clinic.
Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency Director Kevin Schott, who presided over the conference, took a moment to thank frontline workers in public health and health care.
Local physicians Dr. Ben Cady of Springfield Clinic, Dr. Kate Endicott of HSHS and Dr. John Mihelcic of Litchfield Family Practice Center shared remarks on why the vaccine is important and encouraged the community to reach out to their physicians with concerns.
Dr. Cady, who said physicians are skeptical by nature, shared that he trusted his colleagues who created the vaccine. He said the vaccine dramatically reduces the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
“This is a medical issue like anything else, so of course there is skepticism, there is hesitancy,” said Dr. Endicott. “Overall, for most people, the vaccine is shown to be effective and safe, and that the benefits of it far outweigh both the known risks and any hypothetical risks that we don’t quite yet know about the vaccine.”
Dr. Mihelcic, who works in obstetrics, said he has noticed some concern with pregnant women receiving the vaccination. He advised that, according to two large trials, fertility rates are about the same between vaccinated and un-vaccinated women.
“We are trusting the science. And we are trusting the people who have used that science to provide vaccines and other methods to keep us safe and to move us through,” said Senator Turner.
The new senator said while communities and businesses were impacted by the pandemic, the public must do everything they can to bounce back.
“The way we do that is by taking advantage of the resources that have been put in our path,” said Senator Turner. “Nothing can be put in play any stronger than the resources that we have with the vaccines. And we have made them so accessible.”
Following her remarks, Brown and Bondurant presented a certificate of appreciation to the senator, who provided assistance and support to the organization and the communities it serves in their fight against COVID-19.
According to Satterlee, approximately 40 percent of residents in Montgomery County have been fully vaccinated.
For more information about vaccine clinics or to make an appointment, call the Montgomery County Health Department at 217-532-2001.