6/16/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot - IDHS State Operated Facilities

Good Morning IDHS Staff,

Like most Illinoisans, I am elated for us to have transitioned to Phase 5 of Restoring Illinois. With this transition, many businesses are able to fully open back up, and many of the reliable services we depend on, are once again fully available.

These advancements did not come easily, or without sacrifices. In partnership with so many of our stakeholders, IDHS has been able to play a critical role in limiting the spread of COVID throughout Illinois. In today's Bright Spot, I am thrilled to highlight the work of our team and their commitment to this task, which has delivered more than 20,000 vaccines to Illinois residents, including many of you.

IDHS has been actively working to vaccinate staff, residents, and patients in the State Operated Facilities since early January 2021. While vaccines have been offered at all State Operated Facilities, many of these facilities also served as vaccination sites for community residents. These included: Alton MHC, Chicago- Read MHC, Choate DC, Elgin MHC, Fox DC, Kiley DC, Ludeman DC, Mabley DC, Madden MHC, McFarland MHC, Murray DC, and Shapiro DC. Today, these facilities, combined, have now provided more than 20,000 vaccines - 22,148 to be exact! The 20,000 shot milestone was achieved in May, and continues to rise daily.

This work has not come without challenges for IDHS. As a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, our team built a vaccine infrastructure from scratch. Their ability to work together not only moved our facilities forward, but also our communities. The team welcomed community members of all kinds, but especially those encountering challenges with accessing the vaccine. This outreach was possible because of an equitable distribution of vaccine to low-income and disproportionately impacted communities. In total, nearly 5,700 individuals from the community have so far been able to get vaccines through these efforts.

An outstanding coalition of IDHS staff made this work happen on top of regular job duties to care for IDHS residents and patients, and also formed partnerships with the Division of Rehabilitation Services home service providers, Community Integrated Living Arrangements, and other community providers to make this work happen. Thank you to the dynamic team of folks who made this work possible, especially to our 24/7 facility leaders and their nursing staff who went above and beyond to ensure our success.

Special thanks to our central project team: Dana Kelly, Rachel Krause, AnnaMerlina Conant, Keri Branham, Jason Cochran, and Bob Dyer for their support of this effort.

If any employee has not yet received their vaccine, they should consult with https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/vaccination-location to find a vaccine location near you. There is also a Vaccine Scheduling Hotline at 833-621-1284. Please continue to be safe at work, at home, and in your communities.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS