Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 10

RM | COMMUNITY

Close to
the heart
North Central Missouri
rallies around community health
by Zach Smith | zsmith@ruralmissouri.coop
photos by Lana Ledford | info@ruralmissouri.coop
ince March 2020, Deborah Taylor and her staff
of six have been on the front lines of keeping her
community safe from an invisible enemy. During
the year, the administrator of the Sullivan County
Health Department and her co-workers have been working seven days a week to track COVID-19 cases, perform
contact tracing and investigation and keep the public informed on the best practices to stay safe during a pandemic. That's on top of the health
department's typical workload of providing
Milan
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shots and attending to WIC clients.
" The whole health care industry is overrun
right now, " Deborah says. " There's nothing to
be taken for granted with COVID, and inform
our residents of the safety precautions to stop
the spread. "
As vaccines became available in early 2021, DeboUDKDQGKHUWHDPZHUHIDFHGZLWKDQRWKHUFKDOOHQJHÀUVW
obtaining then administering them to residents. Deborah
VD\VVKHPD\ÀQGRXWWKHQLJKWEHIRUHWKDWDFHUWDLQQXP
ber of vaccines will be available the next morning. That
ÀUVWSKRQHFDOOSURPSWVDFKDLQUHDFWLRQRILQIRUPLQJWKH
public, obtaining the necessary protective gear and sanitizer, organizing assistance and staging all of the players in
a venue where residents and volunteers can remain safely
socially distanced for the duration. Because as soon as the
vaccines are in hand, the clock is ticking.
" You don't have a lot of time to put this together, " Deborah says. " You start planning right there. "

S

10

RURAL MISSOURI | APRIL 2021

That's when having partners in a community shifts from
EHLQJDEHQHÀWWRDQHFHVVLW\/XFNLO\IRUWKHUHVLGHQWVRI
Sullivan County, the local electric co-op is used to being
on the frontline when time and service are of the essence.
North Central Missouri Electric Cooperative's truck bay
played host to nine vaccination clinics as of late March,
giving Deborah and her team ample indoor, heated space
to vaccinate as many as 50 residents per hour while allowing for social distancing and safety protocols.
" Not many places would have 50 chairs, tables, bathrooms, parking that doesn't go up hills or steps to the
building - that's a lot to take into consideration, "
'HERUDKVD\V´7KHVWDIÀQJDQGORJLVWLFVRQWKHVH
small rural clinics is so crucial, and there's been a
great effort on the part of the volunteers. We can't
do it without the support of the community, and
the biggest stakeholder in that is North Central. "
Filling a role in the community isn't new territory for the co-op. North Central lineworkers
are a familiar sight in the Putnam County, Newtown-Harris and Milan school districts as well as
the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center
LQ/LQQHXV:KHWKHUWKH\DUHVKRZLQJVWXGHQWVKRZWR
stay safe around electricity, letting them try on lineworker
gear or talking farm safety, the co-op's employees are
invested in keeping their community safe. The health department is a frequent visitor to the co-op's annual meetLQJVDQGSURYLGHVÁXVKRWVWRWKHDUHD·VPDMRUHPSOR\HUV
including North Central. So when the call to provide community safety raised a new challenge, the organizations
were already well prepared to partner up again.
" Basically we've given them free-rein of our building as
soon as they get the phone call saying so many vaccines



Rural Missouri - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 5
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 6
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 7
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 8
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 9
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 10
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Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover4
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