Public health districts across the country have been working nonstop since the beginning of the pandemic. Health districts large and small are tasked with organizing vaccination clinics on top of other daily responsibilities.
Bell County has been partnering with area hospitals to distribute COVID-19 vaccines while holding multiple clinics of their own. These clinics require a lot of volunteers, which has proven to be an issue for the county to maintain.
Margaret Mark is a registered nurse who has been volunteering at Bell County vaccine clinics since the beginning of the year. She's even recruited some of her family members.
“We get off the night before from a 12-hour shift and then we go assist because it's just something we want to be a part of. We always make it worth it, and we are there until the last person gets vaccinated,” she said.
Mark is one of a handful of steady volunteers who come from as far as Austin and San Antonio to assist with vaccine distribution, but volunteers aren't as available as they once were, leading the county to look elsewhere for help.
“It's upsetting to us. It hurts our heart, you know what I mean? The volunteers, you know, I just don't think a lot of people know about it," she said.
"We have, I believe, 77 positions volunteer positions throughout the day, and we’ve learned that we can operate with less because we’ve been forced to," explained James Stafford, public information officer for Bell County. “We are not a vaccinating entity. We are Bell County, and we do a whole lot of things but that’s not necessarily on the list.”
The county has now partnered with Curative to help in that vaccination effort.
Curative has worked with Houston and Austin to host mass vaccination sites. In a statement, the company described their abilities.
Curative is a leader in on-demand public health service programs and infrastructure. From rapid, mass-scale testing and vaccines for COVID-19 to other essential services, Curative partners with communities to strengthen public health services with turn-key programs, easy-to-access experiences, and scalable infrastructure, keeping people everywhere safe, healthy, and informed.
Stafford says this partnership will relieve some stress from the health district. It also will not cost taxpayers.
“They [Curative] work through insurance companies, and also they seek out a reimbursement to grants and other things that are available, so it’s not costing the county any money to have this operation," Stafford explained.
Stafford says Curative prioritizes hiring local people to work these vaccination sites, but no matter who is calling the shots, Mark says she will be there volunteering regardless.
“It takes all of us. It truly takes a village, as they say. We just need more and more people,” she said.
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