The COVID-19 pandemic response has challenged our residents, businesses, schools, public works, and healthcare providers over this past year. From the beginning, St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) has prioritized initiatives to prevent disease spread, respond to outbreaks, educate organizations and businesses, and more recently started organizing COVID-19 vaccination events. The need for specialists and dedicated resources in these efforts has brought a unique partnership between PHHS and Sisu Healthcare IT Solutions (Sisu) to provide Infection Control Specialists dedicated to PHHS’s COVID-19 response.
Starting in August 2020, PHHS and Sisu entered the partnership to bring two, full-time resources and have extended the project through the end of 2021. The two nursing specialists, Anne Graves and Kaisa Anttila, have worked directly with PHHS leadership in coordinating activities, providing up-to-date education, and assisting with outbreak response in congregate care and community-based facilities within St. Louis County.
“The continually evolving needs brought on by the pandemic have stretched the capacity of St. Louis County Public Health,” said Amy Westbrook, St. Louis County Public Health division director. “Our staff has responded admirably and the added expertise and experience that SISU brings to the COVID-19 response, especially in infection control, has been a tremendous complement. As we’ve prioritized particular populations with specific needs or risks due to COVID, we’ve been able to turn to Sisu for assistance, allowing our staff more time to focus on other areas of need.”
Graves has had plenty of experience working with PHHS as a former employee. “I am honored for the opportunity to assist my public health colleagues and serve the citizens of St. Louis County during this unprecedented public health crisis. After such a challenging year, being able to transition into helping with the vaccine clinics and assisting event organizers to plan for upcoming events fills me with so much hope for the future.”
Anttila brings her nursing and healthcare IT background to her new public health role. She has quickly become a vital resource for the County’s ongoing pandemic response. “When the pandemic began, I felt called to get more involved, so I was excited to hear of the opportunity for collaboration between Sisu and St. Louis County. It’s great to see how the community has really come together in this and I feel honored to be a part of it.”
With St. Louis County Public Health now planning and operating vaccination clinics across the area. Some of the related responsibilities for Graves and Anttila include:
- Advising community partners on infection control practices and how to open up events and services in a responsible way
- Participating in briefings held by Minnesota Department of Health on updates to COVID-19 vaccination planning and best practices
- Addressing vaccine hesitancy and promoting vaccination by providing education to target populations
- Administering vaccines at County-run clinics
Kevin Boerboom, Sisu CEO adds, “Sisu is extremely proud of the work Anne and Kaisa are accomplishing with St. Louis County. They are on the front lines of prevention, response and education, which has been vital in protecting the health of our neighbors, friends, and family. Our partnership with the County aligns perfectly with our mission to support regional healthcare facilities.”
Click Here for more information about the St. Louis County’s COVID-19 response and register for vaccination when available.