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Department of Health and Environment Honored for Excellence and Innovation

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) honored the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) with a Model Practice Award at its 2010 annual conference. LCDHE was one of 24 local health departments across the country honored for creating and implementing programs that demonstrate exemplary results.

LCDHE was honored for creating web-based tools that helped assure efficient mass H1N1 vaccination clinics. Through on-line and telephone registration systems, LCDHE was able to recruit and schedule volunteers, schedule patients for a vaccination time that significantly reduced waits, and provided secure online tools for clinic operations and planning details that could be shared among key staff and partners. 

“Our goal was to develop a system that would help us overcome the problems that plague mass vaccination clinics in times of vaccine shortages,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Department of Health and Environment. “Based on patient feedback, we achieved that.

“The public expressed great overall satisfaction with the registration process and the ease of getting through the clinics,” LeBailly added. “That was largely due to the appointments being spread over time – as well as knowing they would get their vaccine and not be turned away after a long wait.”

The majority (60%) of clients were vaccinated in 10 minutes or less: 94% were vaccinated in 20 minutes or less. And 99.6% of surveyed clients expressed satisfaction with their H1N1 clinic experience. 

Positive outcomes of the program included:

  • Short clinic (wait and vaccination) times for clients
  • Little to no crowding
  • Adequate supplies of vaccine per clinic since numbers of appointments were based on amount of vaccine available.
  • Public convenience of registering for a preferred time and vaccine type at home
  • Cost savings by using over 300 volunteers who signed up using the simple online system.

“I believe we were the first local health department to use an online registration system for H1N1 vaccination clinics,” said LeBailly. “We will make the software available to other local health departments to use in other outbreaks or large public health events requiring registration.”

LeBailly is quick to add that the success of this model program involved many county staff and community partners. “The Health Department’s staff, our business analyst, and the county webmaster were really instrumental to making this happen. We also had critical assistance of our community partners, including the Health District of Northern Larimer County and the United Way of Larimer County.” 

The model practices chosen by NACCHO reflect the wide range of work performed by local health departments nationwide. “Each is an example of locally-driven innovation,” said NACCHO Executive Director Robert Pestronk. “These ground-breaking programs can be replicated by other local health departments or adapted to their own practice.”

The county health department’s program will soon be available for use by other local health departments nationwide.

“We believe there’s a good chance that other organizations will see the real benefits we experienced in our mass vaccination clinics and choose to adopt it,” said LeBailly. “It also has advantages for other large vaccination clinics and other events where services will be offered to large numbers of people, not just for emergencies.”

Since 2003, NACCHO’s Model Practice program has honored these local initiatives. All model practices are catalogued in an online, searchable database in areas ranging from immunization and maternal and child health to infectious diseases and emergency preparedness. The NACCHO Model Practice database allows local health department users to benefit from colleagues’ experiences, to learn what works, and to ensure that resources are used wisely. It also enables NACCHO to share information with key stakeholders and media about the good work being done by local health departments across the country.  Read more about these award-winning programs at http://naccho.org/topics/modelpractices/database/index.cfm.

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.