Eight years ago, my family relocated to Terre Haute from Philadelphia. The move to Terre Haute was a big change for me because I always lived in a large metropolitan city. I quickly discovered that a sense of community is vital to any area, no matter what size. It wasn’t until I moved to Terre Haute that I experienced the impact a community can make when it pulls together.
A perfect example of community working together successfully is the recent undertaking led by the Vigo County School Corp. to ensure that its students were in compliance with new guidelines regarding immunizations.
In April 2010, the Indiana Department of Education implemented new guidelines requiring students to be immunized. The three required vaccinations are varicella (chickenpox), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and meningococcal (meningitis). Since April. 2010, the Vigo County School Corp., the state health department and various local health administrators encouraged parents to have their children immunized by making efforts to conduct clinics on weekends.
By the end of 2010, the VCSC had more than 4,000 students who had not met these requirements. Obviously, excluding that large number of students was not an option for the VCSC. Instead, led by the guidance of Superintendant Daniel Tanoos; Ray Azar, Director of Student Services; and Carol Lucas, VCSC Chairperson of Health and Nursing, various members of the community were recruited and a task force was created to meet the challenge of ensuring that 4,000 students were up to date with their immunizations.
In addition to Mr. Azar and Ms. Lucas, the members of the task force were: Barb Gossett (Union Hospital), Mary Fazekas (UAP Clinic), Christie Lee (Regional Hospital), Brendan Kearns (Union Hospital), Carol Roesch (Union Hospital), Dr. Philip Reed (UAP Clinic), Dr. Randy Stevens (Union Hospital), Rod Bosley (Union Hospital), Esther Acree (Indiana State University), Veda Gregory (Indiana State University), Pam Cox (retired chairperson of Nursing for the VCSC), Valerie Bailey (VCSC) and Tammy Pearson, FNP. Along with Mrs. Pearson, who is my colleague on the School Board, I also had the privilege to serve on this task force.
From January through March, the task force organized free immunization clinics at Terre Haute North High School, Terre Haute South High School, West Vigo High and Middle Schools, McLean Education Center, Washington High School, Honey Creek Middle School, Otter Creek Middle School, Sarah Scott Middle School, Woodrow Wilson Middle School and Chauncey Rose Middle School. As a result of the efforts of the task force and countless volunteers and staff in the schools, over 1,000 students received their immunizations at these clinics. Additionally as a result of these efforts, more immunization records have been trickling in and, to date, only a handful of students remain excluded.
The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is truly exemplified by this undertaking. It is important to recognize the organizations and individuals in the Terre Haute community who came together to make this happen. There were a number of nurses, doctors, parents and VCSC staff who volunteered their time. Also, many organizations donated supplies. I endeavor to name everyone, but know that may not be possible and particularly thank those who I may have left out. On behalf of the VCSC and as a member of this fine community, I thank and appreciate the following organizations and individuals:
All members of the Task Force listed above, the Indiana Department of Health who supplied all the vaccines, Union Hospital, UAP Clinic, Regional Hospital, Ivy Tech School of Nursing, ISU School of Nursing, Sycamore Nursing Center, Springhill Medical Center, Hospice of the Wabash Valley and Richard Lugar Center for Rural Health. Some or all of these groups provided medical supplies and/or volunteers.
Thank you to the following medical professionals who graciously donated their time on the front lines administering immunizations and/or reviewing records: Tammy Pearson, FNP, Melissa McCoy, Dr. Randy Stevens, Dr. Philip Reed, Dr. Thomas Yeagley, Dr. William Scully, Dr. Steven McDonald, Tiffany Turner, FNP, Joyce Boeglin, FNP, Dr. Ron Leach, Dr. Greg Doll, Dr. Margaret Pappas, Lynn Kellett FNP, Sister Barbara Battista, PA, Jennifer Cox, NP, Dr. Jennifer Alderink, Dr. Naveen Kumar, Sandy Thompson, RN, Linda Gates, RN, Maggie Hayne, RN, Caroline Kinnett, RN, Melissa Barker, RN, Paula Brown, RN, Jaimee Goodman, RN, Shawn DePasse, RN, Melissa Peck, RN, Donna Stalker, RN, Lisa Reinhardt, RN, Annette Smith, RN, Corinne Owen, RN, Tabatha Donnelly, RN, Karen Branam, RN, Joely Lemke, RN, Barb Gossett, RN, Polly Fullom, RN, Sara Ellingsworth, RN, Tami Smith, RN, Marianne McIntyre, RN, Margo Yeargin, RN, Doris Shanks, RN, Sue Royer, RN, Jamie Roshel, RN, Ann Speedy, RN, Alisa Walters, RN, Tammy Lalouche, RN, Debbie Schmidt, RN, Cynthia Dowers, RN, Ann Barnett, RN, Jeanna Baumgardner, RN, Shauna Grammar, NP, Dena Cochran, RN, Brenda Milner, RN, Angie Jensen, RN, Debbie Richie, RN, Andrea Helamn, RN, Tanya Barger, RN, Kelly Waters, RN, Annie Mann RN, Michelle Lindsay RN, Jennifer Likens, RN, Sheran Allee, RN, Kelly Scamihorn, RN, and Debby Bahr, RN.
Thank you to retired VCSC school nurses Pam Cox, Marti Wright and Sue Paris. Also thank you to Gail Whitfield, RN, who helped with vaccine storage at the Vigo County Health Department. As a nurse with the Health Department, Ms. Whitfield held several immunization clinics prior to the start of the 2010-2011 school year.
I wanted to extend a big special thank you to our driver, Jim Ford, from the maintenance department with the VCSC. Mr. Ford was at each clinic very early in the morning delivering supplies, loading and unloading and setting up and transporting ISDH employees to the site. Also, thank you to Mike’s Market for the wonderful box lunches for our volunteers.
Of course, we could not have done this without the leadership of Mr. Ray Azar and Ms. Carol Lucas. They spearheaded this effort, spending countless hours gathering records, gathering task force members, recruiting volunteers, coordinating with the health department, communicating with parents and coordinating with the staff in each of the schools.
Additionally, the clinics would not have been possible without the leadership of the entire VCSC nursing staff consisting of: Lisa Isaacs, Vickie Murray, Kristen Gauer and Shannon Senteney. Thank you to our school principals who made every clinic inviting and accommodating to our volunteers. Thank you to parents, who as usual, were there to lend a helping hand. Thank you to VCSC staff who volunteered hours away from their normal duties to help out at the clinics.
I also want to thank Mrs. Pearson for working three clinics and for serving on the task force. As a new member of the school board, Mrs. Pearson enthusiastically offered her expertise and assistance. Through her dedication to the school corporation, she inspired her colleagues in the medical profession to participate in this effort.
Finally, thank you to Mr. Tanoos for his vision in initiating these clinics. It is a testament to our magnificent school corporation that facing constant financial and political hits, we ensure the health and well-being of our students. Notably, to my knowledge, the VCSC is the only school corporation in the state that has held free immunization clinics with the help of volunteers. The fact that we had a task force and we organized and ran all the clinics was the reason that the Indiana State Department of Health was willing to assist with vaccines. That is because the VCSC sits in a community that works and lives together.
— Alpa Patel, president
Board of Trustees
Vigo County School Corp.