Jessica Cejnar / Tuesday, July 13 @ 3:53 p.m. / Community

Del Norte Supervisors Honor DHHS Employees Who Responded to Pandemic

Del Norte Public Health nurses and volunteers who staffed vaccination clinics were honored at this year's Fourth of July parade. File photo: Jessica Cejnar

Meeting for the first time in “true open session” at the Flynn Center since March 2020, the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors honored Department of Health and Human Services employees that responded to the COVID-19 crisis for the past year and a half.

“Many many people in this county really stepped up above and beyond their job classification in the last year and a half,” Board Chairman Chris Howard said Tuesday. “And even though June 15 has come and gone and orders are lifted for the state of California, many employees in Del Norte County still continue to be stalwarts as it relates to moving things forward … (during) COVID-19.”

Howard read off the names of those who work in DHHS’s Public Health Branch as well as non-public health employees who assisted with contact tracing during the pandemic.

These include: Melody Cannon-Cutts, Shelby Bodenstab, Jamie Gormly, Colleen Machado, Rebecca Greenberg, Gail Tucker, Alyssa Calleja, Ericka Nelson, Norma Williams, Anne McAleenan, Cheryl Heinz, Tracy Merrifield, Bonnie Brinegar, Carmen Fong-Chavez, Rebecca Green, Kara Scanlon, Grace Perry, Melissa Strom, Jennifer Elk, Cindy Salatnay, Margarita Perez, Jerry Her, Amber O’Laughlin, Chezaree Vanlandingham, Anhelica Glazner, Treasure Cox, Eva Lopez and Kathryn Sheahar.

According to DHHS Director Heather Snow, these employees ensured staff could respond quickly to potential COVID-19 cases and investigate close contacts.

“There were periods during the pandemic that our response rate was consistently within 24 hours and more timely than many other parts of California,” she wrote in an email to the Wild Rivers Outpost. “This is specifically due to this group of employees being there to respond during a never-before-seen critical time, and I’m happy to see our Board of Supervisors recognize them by name today.”

Everyone at the Flynn Center applauded for staff that responded to the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday. District 1 Supervisor Darrin Short, noting that Bodenstab is his niece, said he was able to help out with a vaccination clinic at the Del Norte County Airport early in the effort. He said they vaccinated roughly 400 people in about three hours.

“Not only was it a ton of fun, all the people that were there were engaged with each other so well,” he said. “Everybody worked hard, they were totally organized and very professional.”

Short’s District 2 colleague, Valerie Starkey, noted that sometimes people don’t realize how many are working behind the scenes.

Del Norte County honored its public health nurses on National Nurse's Week in May. Photo courtesy of Chris Howard

“If you had the boring job of contact tracing, we appreciate that and we appreciate all that you’ve done,” she said.

The Board of Supervisors’ recognition come as two new COVID-19 cases were reported to the Public Health Branch on Tuesday. There are currently 22 active cases in Del NOrte County, according to the county’s COVID-19 Information Hub.

There have been a total of 1,516 confirmed cases in Del Norte County since the pandemic started in March 2020, eight people have died.


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