Friday, March 1, 2024

Eads: Volunteers make a difference in Denton County

Recently, we had the opportunity to thank the many volunteers who donated their time and energy to help make our Denton County Vaccination Hub at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) a tremendous success.

We gave more than 371,700 vaccinations to residents across the region, providing a good base toward herd immunity following more than a year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

These volunteers came from across the U.S. – from Alaska to Arkansas as well as from many of our neighboring counties and the communities within the county. The Texas National Guard, FEMA and other organizations sent volunteers to our hub. Police officers, firefighters and EMTs spent countless hours directing traffic, drawing vaccine into syringes, giving shots and monitoring vaccine recipients for reactions.

Our volunteers welcomed individuals with a smile, dancing as they directed traffic to stay warm in wintry weeks and offering comfort when a recipient shed tears of relief at receiving a much-desired vaccine.

On May 14, we recognized their valiant efforts on the last day at TMS, providing a barbecue meal, music, a slideshow of photos, giveaways including challenge coins, tumblers and t-shirts and, most importantly, an opportunity to meet each other and collectively celebrate their commitment to helping others.

In the 16 weeks at TMS from Feb. 2 through May 14, we were able to create a system that ensured efficiency, easy access and equitable distribution of a vaccine that would set the foundation for a return to normalcy.

Each of the estimated 8,120 volunteers who assisted in this effort can take credit for their contributions to the good of humanity and to helping their fellow residents in a time of need. These volunteers contributed 47,424 hours, saving county taxpayers an estimated $1,145,757. Never before, in the history of our county, celebrating 175 years of existence this year, have we come together in such a fashion for a common purpose.

This effort demonstrated how a county of almost 1 million residents reached for the stars in setting a goal of vaccinating as many individuals as possible in a manner that has caught the attention of not only the White House but even national and international media.

Agencies across the U.S., as well as from neighboring counties, visited our operation to determine how they could replicate our efficiencies in vaccinating large groups of individuals safely.

Our clinics set national records, we believe, vaccinating first 15,000-plus and then 17,003 individuals in a single day. With careful precision, we were able to avoid injuries in spite of moving thousands of cars into the clinic, through 16 lanes and back out every hour.

Unseen by the passing cars, individuals monitored the traffic from multiple angles (from our emergency management command center to a control room in the Gate 4 tower), communicating via radio when potential problems arose. Hours and days were spent discussing traffic flow, communications and even plans for inclement weather situations.

Eight portable buildings housed IT teams monitoring each vaccine, which had to be accounted for, as well as groups of healthcare professionals drawing vaccine into syringes – precisely timing the draws to traffic flow to all but eliminate the potential for waste. Scribes recorded the date and time each shot was given and even in which arm it was received.

Behind the scenes, others worked to answer questions at the Denton County Public Health call center, to develop and implement the Vaccine Interest Portal for registration and consistent communication about each individual’s status in receiving their vaccine.

While we are no longer at TMS, these efforts continue on a smaller scale in neighborhood clinics across Denton County to ensure those who want the COVID-19 vaccine receive it. Recently, we opened the appointment system to provide more options for recipients to schedule their own dates and times among the available clinics in an attempt to make it more accessible for all.

We will never be able to thank our volunteers and staff enough for their outstanding efforts. However, we can all know that in this 175th year of existence, Denton County proved without any doubt that, together, we are all #DentonCountyStrong.

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CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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