Morgan County Health Officials are hoping a meeting today at Passavant Area Hospital has an effect in Washington D.C. on the fight against COVID-19.
18th District U.S. Congressman Darin LaHood toured the Morgan County Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Passavant this morning. LaHood spoke with health officials that included Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter, Passavant Area Hospital President and CEO Dr. Scott Boston, and ESDA Director for Morgan County Phil McCarty.
LaHood spoke with the group for more than a half-hour in the lobby’s main hall about both the successes and the needs in Morgan County’s vaccination efforts. Following a tour of the clinic, LaHood commended healthcare workers in Morgan County for their continued efforts in distributing the vaccine.
“The collaboration here that is being done with the local health department, with Passavant, the leadership from EMS, that’s the first thing it’s unbelievable collaboration. And that’s really what you need in a community like Jacksonville and Morgan County.
Also a big thank you and a lot of gratitude to the front-line workers here. The nurses, the personnel, I mean this is really a seamless operation as I walk through it here today. And seeing how they coordinated the logistics, the parking, but also the people that are involved. So, kudos to again the hospital staff, the health department, and everyone involved in this process.
The number one thing the country is focused on is getting the vaccine out, getting it in people’s arms and you couldn’t ask for a better facility and coordinated effort than here at Passavant.”
LaHood received an update on the progress of vaccination distribution in Morgan County. Bainter says currently, 58% of residents age 65 and older are fully vaccinated with over 70% now have had at least the first dose. Dr. Boston said one of the biggest challenges for the area going forward is vaccine hesitancy. Bainter says his department feels they will be fortunate if 50% of the county’s population elects to receive the vaccine.
When asked what ways Washington could help in the long term, McCarty said anything that could be done to help Passavant Area Hospital in the fight against COVID needed to continue. He says Passavant is crucial in not just Morgan, but all of the surrounding counties. McCarty says Passavant is the hitch pin between Quincy and Springfield when it comes to hospital care.
LaHood says after seeing the clinic in action, a major takeaway is that funding provided by Congress is getting where it is needed.
“When I go back to Washington, knowing that the money being spent here at Passavant and in Morgan County is money well spent. You look at the collaboration, you look at how diligent they are, how resourceful and responsible they are. You have the best medical professionals here at Passavant, working with the county, working with the state, working with the feds.
That’s what I’m going to come away with is this is an operation that is well run, where taxpayer money is going to good use. And listen, this is the number one issue facing the country, getting through the pandemic and that is being done here at Passavant and is a great example of that.”
LaHood says he intends to continue efforts to find more ways to support local hospitals and health departments such as here in Morgan County when he heads back to Washington D.C. next week.