On Friday, Amber Elliott became the 12th health department director in Missouri this year to resign or be fired from their job.
Elliott’s last day as the St. Francois County Health Center director was on Friday. She resigned a month ago after citing concern for her family’s safety.
This week, she shared her story on the national level with the Washington Post and CNN. The story she tells is a look into what she and her family and staff have faced during the pandemic: threatening messages, harassment, strange cars creeping outside her house, people stalking her family in the park, and community members refusing to cooperate with quarantine and isolation requests.
While the events might seem a bit dramatic, Elliott said, it all happened.
Since that story has been online, people from all over the country have reached out to her to show their support.
“I think it highlights a bigger issue that we're seeing in public health,” Elliott said on Friday, “not just in Missouri, but across the country, with public health workers that are being harassed and health directors who have left their job that are an asset to public health, along with personnel.”
She wants this story to show that she and other public health care workers are just doing their best to help the community.
“I just think we have a great community, and we've had a lot of support,” Elliott added. “I think people just need to understand that we are just trying to help and we want to see our community thrive. It's been a tough year for everybody, our businesses and individuals.
“I hope that, again, this brings light to that we're really trying to do good in the community.”
Chairperson Jack Poston and several members of the board of health, along with the health center staff, presented Elliott with a plaque on her last day to show her how much her dedication to the health of the community has meant.
“I appreciate it very much,” Elliott said of the surprise presentation. “My staff has worked so hard this year and I, as well, and our board, who's unpaid and just volunteers. So it means a lot.”
In her new role, she will still be working alongside the health center in the community.
The health center reported 521 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week.
The health center is now just reporting updated stats on Friday.
There are 645 active cases; of those, nine are related to the Department of Corrections outbreaks and 48 are related to long-term care facilities.
Since March 22, there have been 4,714 cases and 36 COVID-related deaths in St. Francois County.
According to the health center, the rate of positivity last week in the county dipped slightly to 23.9%.
Parkland Health Center continues to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in the communities as the situation surrounding the virus escalates across the region.
“With positive cases quickly increasing and our COVID-19 hospital admission rates at the highest they have been throughout the course of the pandemic, Parkland is preparing to care for additional patients who will need our services,” said Annette Schnabel, President of Parkland Health Center, in a release on Friday.
Part of these planning measures include the postponement of some elective procedures and well visits that can safely be postponed, on an individual basis, the release said. This change allows for the reassignment of care team members from these areas to assist in other patient care settings as needed. It is important to note that any patient who will be impacted by a postponed appointment will be contacted about any changes to their scheduled visit.
“Hospitalization of COVID-19 patients in our region continues to increase, but the changes being implemented are allowing for additional space and staff to continue providing exceptional care with great compassion to local residents,” said Schnabel.
Parkland is reminding the community that the single most effective prevention measure in the absence of a vaccine is wearing a mask to reduce the spread of the virus in community settings.
“Many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms and can spread the virus without even knowing they are infected,” the release said. Wearing a mask can prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others.”
It is important to remember that a face mask is not a substitute for social distancing, the release continued. Individuals should still stay 6 feet away from others while wearing a mask to help reduce community spread. Frequent hand washing and avoiding large gatherings are also highly recommended to help combat the spread of infection.
Presbyterian Manor update
Farmington Presbyterian Manor announced on Thursday that one essential health care worker has tested positive for the virus.
“We continue to closely watch the COVID-19 pandemic as cases rise in our area and around the nation,” said Jane Hull, executive director.
On Monday, they tested 100 residents and 106 staff members, the facility’s release said. On Wednesday, they tested staff a second time. The essential health care employee was the only positive case among residents and staff. Their next testing date is Monday.
The essential health care employee last worked Tuesday. They said the individual screened in and wore personal protective equipment while working.
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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