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Parkland creates COVID memorial
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Parkland creates COVID memorial

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Parkland Health Center pays tribute to COVID-19 patients

Parkland Health Center create a memorial to honor COVID-19 patients. Blue represents patients treated and discharged while white represents patients who have died of COVID.

As residents reflect on the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in the community, Parkland Health Center created a memorial to honor patients a year after the pandemic started.

"As we pass the one-year anniversary, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered from COVID-19,” said Heather Taliaferro, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Parkland Health Center. “There are not enough words to express our gratitude to those patients for allowing us to be involved with their care and to our frontline staff for their courage, compassion, and resiliency."

According to a release from the hospital, the memorial stands on the lawn at the main entrance of Parkland Health Center in Farmington, paying tribute to the hundreds of COVID-19 patients cared for at Parkland since the pandemic began. The 653 pinwheels positioned into the ground represent the patients who have recovered and been discharged home as of the memorial’s installation date on April 6, while 43 white hearts mark the lives lost.

Additional vaccines continue to become available, providing a sense of hope for returning to some semblance of normalcy. The memorial serves to recognize the toll the pandemic has taken on people’s lives, as well as to honor the community, their patients, and their families.

"No memorial, no matter how beautiful and grand, can encompass all the pain experienced with this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Scott Kirkley, Parkland Health Center medical director. “We hope that this remembrance of those who have been so deeply affected will help to bring some measure of comfort in knowing that they are not forgotten.”

The memorial will stand for the next several weeks to honor the local healthcare providers who worked heroically in the fight against COVID-19, those who have recovered and returned home, and those who have tragically lost their lives to the virus. Members of the community are welcome to visit the memorial to reflect on the events of the past year and pay tribute to friends, families and neighbors who have been impacted by COVID-19. 

Vaccine appointments available

There are still appointments available for Saturday’s drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic at StarTek, according to an update from the St. Francois County Health Center.

“We have 2,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine to give out on Saturday but we have several appointment slots still available,” the update on Wednesday said.

The clinic will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at StarTek in Farmington.

Shots will be given by appointment only.

By Saturday, all Missourians over the age of 18 will be eligible to receive the shot.

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Here's how you can register:

  • If you have registered through Missouri Vaccine Navigator and have received your email with a link to schedule an appointment, click on that link and you will see the Farmington event. Click and register.
  • You can email the health center. Please email your Patient ID number (from Vaccine Navigator), your phone number, your name, and your desired appointment time to advice@sfchc.org.
  • If you have not registered on Vaccine Navigator, you can now. Even if you aren't eligible today, you can register on https://covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator/ and you will receive your Patient ID number immediately upon completion of your registration.
  • If you are unable to register on Vaccine Navigator, email the health center your name and your phone number to advice@sfchc.org

“Due to limited staffing, we will be unable to take incoming phone calls regarding registration for this event,” the health center said. “Please email us for registration.”

According to Gov. Mike Parson’s office, vaccination teams supporting mass and targeted vaccination events across the state have now administered more than one-quarter million vaccines to Missourians. This total is in addition to vaccines administered by high throughput health centers, local public health agencies, federally qualified health centers, pharmacies, and other community enrolled providers.

“Our state teams have been working nonstop, week after week on this unprecedented statewide vaccination effort,” Parson said in a release. “SEMA, DHSS, and the National Guard have been an essential part of our plan to rapidly get shots into arms. Whether in a small town or a massive parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium, these dedicated men and women have adapted to every situation to meet the needs of Missourians. We could not be more proud of the outstanding work of our state teams along with our local partners, medical professionals, first responders, and numerous other volunteers.”

As of last Saturday, teams led by the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Missouri National Guard, supported by other Missouri Department of Public Safety divisions and the Department of Health and Senior Services, have vaccinated more than 258,000 Missourians at state-supported mass and targeted vaccination events. This total includes the one-dose Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

South African variant found in Missouri

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is reporting the first identification in a Missouri resident of the COVID-19 variant, B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa in December and began being reported in the United States in late January.

According to a release from DHSS on Tuesday, the B.1.351 variant was identified in a sample from an adult living in Jackson County. To protect the privacy of the individual, no further information will be released about the patient. The variant was determined through the whole genome sequencing conducted through a commercial laboratory.

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 374 cases have been reported to the CDC in the United States as of April 5. At least 34 states have identified cases thus far. 

At this point, this variant is not known to cause more severe disease and it is not clear whether it spreads more readily than other strains. Although this strain can reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines, vaccines still provide strong protection against severe illness and death.

"We continue to encourage prevention measures to be in place as we identify more positive cases of these variants," said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. "We also continue to ask that individuals consider getting vaccinated when they are able. The vaccines that are currently available in the United States appear to be effective against these variant viruses."

Another variant of concern, B.1.1.7, also known as the UK variant, was first identified in Missouri in February, and there are currently 35 cases in the state. This variant was first reported in the U.S. at the end of December. Evidence from the UK indicates that this variant spreads much more quickly through the population and, given that fact, may rapidly increase the number of hospitalizations and deaths. More studies are needed to confirm this finding.

Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at noverfelt@dailyjournalonline.com.

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