DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — The Vermilion County Health Department was recently honored with an award for its fight against COVID-19.

The VCHD received the 2022 Bronze Innovative Practice Award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials at a conference in July. Awarded to ten health departments, the award celebrates local health departments for developing innovative programs to meet the needs of their communities.

“Local health departments have demonstrated remarkable innovation and resilience to better the health of their communities during the pandemic, and the 2022 Innovative Practice Awards highlight the very best practices,” said NACCHO’s Chief Executive Officer, Lori Tremmel Freeman. “Winners excelled at various disciplines including promoting health equity, contact tracing, mobile testing, contactless medication delivery, and many more.  NACCHO is very proud to recognize the outstanding work done by local health departments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The VCHD received its award for its “Vaccinations at the Theatre” program. As the layout of the VCHD building limited the number of people who could get vaccinated, the department reached an agreement with Danville’s Fischer Theatre to host vaccination clinics.

“Over the course of the pandemic, we were able to hold vaccination clinics at our office, at Danville Area Community College, at the airport, at community centers, at schools, at churches, and at workplaces,” said Public Health Administrator Douglas Toole. “We are appreciative of all of our hosts, but the clinics at the Fischer were special. It was an inspired idea.”

Amy Lacy, the VCHD’s current Emergency Response Coordinator and Community Liaison, said it took a lot of work and staff members from their own department, volunteers, EMTs and paramedics and even the Illinois National Guard to operate the clinics. But she said it was worth it.

“We received a lot of positive feedback from people about how well-run our clinics were,” Lacy said. “And people absolutely loved seeing the Fischer and sitting in theater seats during their post-vaccination observation time.”

Susan Fauver, the VCHD Director of Community Health Services, said holding the clinics at the theater allowed the department to vaccinate more people more efficiently.

“At our January clinics in the health department, using our WIC waiting room and main hallway, we were vaccinating between 120 and 240 people per day,” Fauver said. “In the Fischer’s lobby, we could have four or five vaccination stations operating at once. In those March clinics, we were vaccinating 600 or more people per day. The extra space and extra help really made a difference in meeting the demand for vaccinations.”

More than 4,000 people were vaccinated in the 10 clinics that were held at the theater.