Posted 9/1/21

HEALTH and WELLNESS A COVID-19 Conversation With DCPHD By Nicole DePalma MS LMT NOTE: This is the second in a short series of discussions with Ms. Gina Adasiewicz, Public Health Director for the …

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A COVID-19 Conversation With DCPHD

By Nicole DePalma MS LMT

NOTE: This is the second in a short series of discussions with Ms. Gina Adasiewicz, Public Health Director for the Dakota County Public Health Department (DCPHD).

COVID-19 has affected each of us in one way or another. Some of us may’ve been afflicted with the virus. Some of us may know someone who’s been afflicted with the virus. Our businesses have been affected. Our schools have been affected. Our social lives have been affected. And sadly, some have lost a battle to the deadly virus.

COVID-19 has affected the DCPHD as well. No longer, a “business as usual” at the department. At some times, there has been more of an “all hands on deck” business as usual. Imagine deploying all services and staff to deal with this virus, and be agile about it. Imagine health professionals who had other jobs to perform within the DCPHD suddenly becoming vaccine providers at service centers throughout Dakota County. And imagine these amazing county employees literally providing thousands of vaccinations per day throughout our entire community. All of this isn’t a figment of imagination. It’s very real.

During our latest Zoom meeting, Gina Adasiewicz explained to me just how the DCPHD had to pivot to respond to the effects of COVID-19 on our area. We also discussed how we may be dealing with this health issue moving forward. Ms. Adasiewicz also emailed me three links from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. Let’s take a look at what some of the CDC’s finding had to say regarding Dakota County.

One of the topics reflected on by the CDC was estimates of vaccine hesitancy within our county. The question was asked, “Once a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is available to you, would you…get a vaccine?”. The answers ranged from definitely getting a vaccine to definitely not getting a vaccine. To date,72.3% of the Dakota County residents twelve years and older have completed the vaccine series.

Another topic covered was how vulnerable a community is to a disaster. The elements looked at were economic, education, family characteristics, housing, language ability, ethnicity, and vehicle access. Overall, Dakota County seemed prepared to meet a disaster like COVID-19.

Finally, the CDC looked at a COVID-19 vaccine coverage index, meaning, could Dakota County meet supply and demand – related challenges that could hinder rapid and widespread COVID-19 vaccine coverage. Here, Dakota County performed well, too.

I believe that Dakota County performed so well on the CDC’s grid because of the organization and action planning used to meet COVID-19’s challenges. For example, the Dakota County, Apple Valley and West St. Paul service centers were utilized as vaccination sites.It was found that a gap existed in providing this service to Hastings. so the Pleasant Hill Public Library was called into action to meet that demand as well. With the author’s permission, I’d like to share an email Ms. Adasiewicz received regarding the opening of Pleasant Hill to provide vaccinations: “A huge thank you to you, your staff and Dakota County for coordinating COVID 19 vaccine clinics at Pleasant Hill Library in Hastings. It is extremely difficult for me to leave work during business hours to drive a distance to get a vaccine so having the vaccine available at the library here made all the difference to me. I appreciate it more than I can express. I am hopeful that if boosters are deemed necessary or other such events come up in the future Dakota County will provide this service again.” Ms. Leslie Nielsen, Meloy Park Florist.

So, moving forward, what’s a county to do as COVID-19 continues to plague us? Ms. Adasiewicz offers a couple thoughts: Layering our protective measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting vaccinated are best practices to get ahead of the pandemic. Readers may’ve noticed that several businesses about town have again required customers to “mask up”, and their employees are doing the same. We need to wash our hands well. We need to respect social distancing of a distance of six feet. If we’re sick, we need to stay home and seek health care. Importantly, getting vaccinated is the way to defeat COVID-19. With no bodies to host the virus, we could look forward to wiping it out, just as we have with other diseases. Get information from trusted sources. Your doctor, health care providers, clergy, or science-based, reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health. The Mayo Clinic and the DCPHD websites provide mask information, and a page dedicated to FAQs. There is information there on vaccinations and how COVID-19 may affect our pets and other animals also.

In summary, its quite remarkable how the DCPHD has been able to meet the challenges this new, deadly virus has created. As I’ve said before, we have an awesome resource here in Dakota County in our Public Health Department. Its services are here for all of us to access, and within its mission is helping us lead our healthiest, best lives. I want to sincerely thank Ms. Adasiewicz for spending time to discuss with me information surrounding this important topic.

Cheers and Be Well.