An Invaluable Experience: Supporting COVID-19 Emergency Response Efforts in Otero County

Joining the Regional Health Connector workforce in October of 2020, Christine Coffield’s early work as an RHC in Region 6 focused on COVID-19 response in Baca, Bent, Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero and Prowers counties. With the Otero County Health Department (OCHD) serving as the region’s RHC host organization, Christine supported the initial planning of OCHD’s COVID-19 mass vaccination drive-through clinic at the Arkansas Valley Fairgrounds in Rocky Ford that opened in January of 2021.

Regional Health Connector Program, Colorado Region 8

Christine Coffield, Regional Health Connector serving Colorado’s Region 6

Describing the work as an altogether impactful experience, Christine played a part in the on-site planning, day-of set up and logistics for the drive-through clinic through her role as an RHC.

“Just being a part of it was an invaluable experience. Watching the young people that recently became employees of OCHD, to help with COVID-19, as well as the young volunteers was very moving to me. To know that all of us, especially the young people involved, are part of history in the making, made me appreciate very much that I was able to be a part of this mass vaccine clinic.” – Regional Health Connector Christine Coffield, Region 6

Christine assisted with numerous logistics that ranged from planning the entry and exit points to the mass vaccination site to setting up the stations needed at the fairgrounds for staff, volunteers and medical personnel. As the clinic began distributing vaccines, Christine entered data into the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) for those 70 and older receiving their first dose of the vaccine and ensured that the proper forms and clipboards were distributed and sanitized between each use by a team of volunteers.

The launch of Otero County’s mass vaccination drive-through clinic was met with success and gratitude from the community in large part due to the dedicated team of volunteers, staff and leadership that rose to meet the moment. Prior to the mass vaccination clinic opening on January 5th, OCHD had planned to administer a first dose of the vaccine to the first 200 eligible people to arrive at the fairgrounds. Before the clinic opened at 1 p.m., OCHD’s Executive Director, Rick Ritter, and fellow employees working the entrance to the fairgrounds noted that there were well over 200 people in line for vaccination. Rather than resigning to turning people away, the team acted quickly to determine if more doses of the vaccine could be obtained in order to serve as many eligible people as possible. To much success, the team was able to secure an additional 150 doses from the local hospital, allowing the clinic to effectively administer 350 first-round doses while turning only a few people away as supplies ran out.

In addition to her initial support of Otero County’s drive-through mass vaccination clinic, Christine’s work around COVID-19 emergency response remains ongoing as she provides support for pregnant women in accessing resources related to COVID-19 from primary care practices, community providers and others who support the health of pregnant women. These resources include information about COVID-19 prevention and protection, testing, vaccine information and mental health support resources.

Built on the idea that a better-connected health system can help to improve the wellbeing of all people living in Colorado, the Regional Health Connector (RHC) program launched in 2015 with a mission to improve health across the state by developing an innovative workforce that is dedicated to connecting primary care, behavioral health, public health, social services and other community organizations. To learn more about Colorado’s Regional Health Connectors, visit the program’s webpage below.

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