St. Tammany Health System opens vaccination appointments to qualified community members
From STHS, COVINGTON – Following Louisiana Office of Public Health guidance, St. Tammany Health System announced vaccine appointment availability for community residents aged 70 and over, as well as community medical providers not employed by the health system.
“Even as we see COVID cases peaking again, we have hope,” STHS President/CEO Joan Coffman said. “We have vaccines, and they are rolling out in greater numbers to wider audiences each week. We are grateful to have the ability to administer these vaccines to our seniors and fellow community healthcare staff.”
With STHS staff inoculation well underway, the health system now has the capacity to offer vaccination appointments to community medical providers and elders 70 and above. Those who qualify can schedule an appointment in MyChart (StTammany.Health/MyChart) or call 985-898-4001 (press 1). Vaccination for the public is through STHS Express Care Clinic, 71338 Hwy 21, Covington, and requires an appointment. Details about the vaccination program is available at https://www.sttammany.health/News/COVID-vaccine-eligibility.
“Every individual is part of the solution to eradicating this disease,” Coffman said. “Together, we can achieve 70% immunization of our population, which will mean herd immunity from COVID-19.”
COVID Team Receives First Access to Revolutionary New Immunization
The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived on the Northshore. As part of federal deployment of the groundbreaking Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, St. Tammany Health System began administering vaccine this morning.
STHS infectious disease specialist Dr. Mike Hill became the health system’s first staff member to receive the vaccine at 10 a.m.
A string of Hill’s frontline colleagues followed, including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Torcson and about 50 other doctors, nurses and environmental services workers. Another 70 or so were scheduled to receive the first of the two-shot vaccine Thursday, with the second dose to follow in 19 to 21 days. Vaccinations will continue daily as STHS receives vaccine from Louisiana Department of Health.
“This is a big day at St. Tammany Health System,” Hill said moments after receiving his vaccine, delivered via injection to his left arm. “It’s been a long time coming and represents a lot of hard work by everybody involved. We’re very excited to have our employees – the people who are taking care of our patients – getting the first vaccines on the way to being protected against COVID-19.”
He added: “This is the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”
Drs. Hill and Torcson both said it was important for them to be among the first in line to roll up their sleeves as a demonstration of their confidence in the vaccine, which was developed with unprecedented speed as part of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program. That speed has prompted some in the public to question the safety of the vaccine, but experts insist the science behind its development is sound and that concerns to the contrary are entirely unfounded.
“This is a perfectly safe vaccine,” Torcson said after receiving his shot. “It really is going to make a significant contribution to ending this pandemic that has really been so devastating worldwide, and certainly in our community here in western St. Tammany Parish. The scientific input and clinical collaboration that went into the development of this vaccine is really unquestionable. This is a safe intervention that’s going to bring this pandemic to an end.”
As production of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ramps up, and as other COVID vaccines hit the market, healthcare workers, residents of retirement homes, first responders and others deemed high-risk will be among those first in line to receive it. Widespread availability to the public is expected this spring, perhaps as early as February.
Even with the deployment of the vaccine, however, Dr. Hill stressed the continued need for social distancing, mask wearing and good hand hygiene, even for those who have been vaccinated. That’s primarily because it’s unclear how long it will protect those who receive it. Also unclear is whether those who have been vaccinated, even if they show no symptoms, are still able to transmit the virus to others.
Wednesday’s historic vaccine delivery comes almost nine months to the day of the arrival of St. Tammany’s first confirmed COVID-19 patient in mid-March. It also comes two days after the first U.S. patients received the vaccine as part of the ongoing federal rollout.
The heartbeat of its community, St. Tammany Health System cares for patients and families with excellence, compassion and teamwork. It is recognized for quality, safety and service excellence by CareChex, Leapfrog, Healthgrades, Hospital Compare, Women’s Choice and US News & World Report. St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Ochsner Health work together in partnership to improve the community’s health and quality of life. Together, west St. Tammany’s top two independent health leaders represent the most complete system of care, aligning behind the common goals of improving access, expanding specialty care and making care affordable. Under their agreement, each retains its autonomy; neither manages nor owns the other. Self-supporting, not-for-profit STHS is A+ rated by Fitch and receives no tax funding. More at stph.org.
Feeding the Needy was founded in 2002 by John Baldwin and Craig Babylon to provide food on Christmas day for families in need on the Northshore. John and Craig shared the idea with Deacon Skip Graffinini, who was the executive director of The Covington Food Bank, which is now The Northshore Food Bank, and learned that The Food Bank was servicing sixty to sixty-five families at that time. A decision was made to move forward, and the project was named “Feeding the Needy”. The Covington Rotary Club was approached for support and special focus was put on providing food for the school children who, during the holidays, do not receive the meals they receive at school and depend on as their main source of nutrition.
Each year on December 23 and 24, volunteers from all over the area come together to prepare Christmas boxes that include a 14-to-16-pound cooked turkey with numerous side dishes and dessert. Each box has enough food to feed a family of four to five with larger families receiving additional boxes. Deliveries are made to families throughout the Northshore area including St. Tammany, Washington, and Tangipahoa parishes. On Christmas morning, Rotarians and other community volunteers hand deliver the boxes to the homes of the identified families. Each family only needs to heat the food and it is ready to serve as a substantial Christmas Day meal and have leftovers to help on the days leading up to school reopening.
This year, due to COVID things will be a little different for FTN. We will have fewer volunteer opportunities and will be offering pick up locations instead of home deliveries.
Meal Pick Up Locations – First Come, First Served Basis
Franklinton Saturday, December 19th 9am – 12 pm East Fairgrounds Behind Rodeo Arena
Bogalusa Saturday, December 19th 1pm – 4pm Northshore Charter School 111 Walker Street, Bogalusa
Covington Tuesday, December 22nd 9:30am- 2:30pm St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds 1304 N. Columbia Street, Covington
FTN relies heavily on financial donations. Because of the support from so many generous volunteers and strong partnerships, FTN is able to operate with minimal administrative costs. Donations for FTN are accepted year-round and can be made below.
To Mail a Check: Checks can be made payable to The Covington Rotary Foundation, which is a 501(c)3 foundation with the corresponding tax status. Please mail checks to The Covington Rotary Club, PO Box 541 Covington, LA 70433. Checks can also be dropped off at Baldwin Motors, 1730 N Hwy 190, in Covington.
To Donate On-line: CLICK HERE to make an online donation.
Please read the message below from our Chairman and Fundraising Coordinator:
Unfortunately, we will not be utilizing community volunteers this year due to COVID. If you have any questions, please contact Jill via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 985-502-6575.
Each year, the Northshore Food Bank distributes over 1 million pounds of food to the residents of St. Tammany and Washington parishes. This year the Food Bank saw an increase of more than 110% in the number of individuals and families they serve due to COVID.
You can help the Northshore Food Bank’s fight to end hunger! Hosting a Food Drive is an easy way for you and your community to get involved.
Food drives play a vital role in helping us to serve those in need in our community. You can make a major impact by organizing a food drive on our behalf.
About 1/3 of our yearly food collection comes from individual donations and community food drives.
The goal of food drives is to bring in as many non-perishable essential items as possible to help us fill our nutritionally sound “staple boxes” distributed to Food Bank participants. There are a number of resources we can offer to help organize your food drive and make it successful, such as:
customizable electronic flyers you can print out and hang to promote your drive
a “Most Needed” items list to share with your group so they can donate needed products
large collection boxes and brown grocery bags to collect donated items
we offer pick-up service for any collections too large to fit in a pick up truck
For more information on how to host a food drive or to request supplies or schedule a pick up, please contact Ginger Kunkle, Community Engagement Manager, at 985.327.0044 or email@example.com.
St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper (11/16/2020): “I want to wish every citizen of St. Tammany a safe and happy Thanksgiving. We know these holidays are going to be different due to COVID-19. Each one of us can play a part in helping to protect the most vulnerable among us through personal responsibility. We can do this with a few simple steps. Please keep COVID-19 protective measures in mind when planning your holiday.
“When you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, please continue to wear masks, physically distance, avoid large gatherings — especially gatherings with people you have not been in contact with recently. If you are out in the community wear a mask — especially when inside local businesses and restaurants. As I have said in the past, there are several ways to support our local restaurants and small businesses. Shopping with them is one and helping them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask when you are inside their establishments is another.
“I continue to work to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy, and I ask each and every citizen to continue to work with me to achieve this balance. By protecting ourselves and one other, we can all contribute to our recovery. Please take personal responsibility as we enter into the holidays. Have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving.”
All local residents should renew awareness and focus on containing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Today at St. Tammany Health System, 17 patients are in COVID care, an increase from 9 one week ago today. Our inpatient census is 131, and we have discharged 492 patients from COVID care since the pandemic began.
The nation surpassed 10 million cases last week and hit 11 million this week. Our local community is experiencing a spike as well with 8,931 cases to date in St. Tammany Parish according to Louisiana Department of Health. Halloween is believed to have sparked a significant increase in community spread, and Thanksgiving is seen as a potential next wave of exposure.
All residents are reminded as we head into winter, people spend more time indoors, increasing the risk of exposure to colds, flu and viruses, including COVID-19. STHS recommends everyone wear a mask, follow proper handwashing and cough etiquette and maintain your distance from others, particularly when you don’t feel well. It’s also important to protect yourself from the flu with a flu shot, which you can access through STHS Express Care and all STPN primary care clinics.
As part of our commitment to help you take excellent care of yourself, St. Tammany Health System has launched Health Check 365, including a special event at STHS Cordes Pavilion, 16300 Hwy 1085, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. For a single fee, participants receive a spectrum of health screenings including biometrics, carotid artery, sleep apnea, body composition plus screens for lung, skin, head and neck cancer. Appointments are necessary by calling 985-871-5932.
St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announces that bars may reopen in St. Tammany for on-premises consumption as of today, October 7, 2020, under Phase 3 guidelines as our percent positivity rate has fallen below 5% for two consecutive weeks. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, from 9/17 – 9/23, St. Tammany Parish had a Percent Positivity Rate of 3.5 %; and for the week of 9/24 – 9/30, 4.30 %. Cooper submitted an opt-in request to the Governor’s Office Tuesday, October 6, 2020 in anticipation of the percent positivity rate in St. Tammany falling below the required threshold for bars to reopen under Governor Edwards’ Phase 3 requirements, received official approval from the Louisiana State Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, and subsequently signed an amended Executive Order reflecting the change.
“Opening another sector of our economy is a big win for us, and for the businesses who will get to open their doors to the public again. We were set to proceed as quickly as possible to do so,” said Cooper. “As I have said since this pandemic began, my goal is to balance the health of the community with the health of our economy.”
Bars may open under the following guidelines:
Bars may reopen and offer tableside service only. Standing and bar service will be prohibited.
Indoor capacity shall be limited to a 25% occupancy rate or fifty (50) people, whichever is less.
Outdoor capacity shall be limited to fifty (50) people and only for tableside service.
Tables shall be spaced in accordance with SFM social distancing guidelines.
Bars and other Class AG permit holders including daiquiri shops must cease all sale and service of alcoholic beverages and close no later than 11 P.M.
No person under the age of twenty-one (21) shall be allowed on to the premises.
Per Phase3 guidelines, if at any time St. Tammany Parish’s percent positivity rate subsequently exceed 10% positivity for two consecutive weeks, bars in St. Tammany Parish will then be closed for on-premises consumption, unless and until the percent positivity decreases to 5% or less for two consecutive weeks. www.stpgov.org
City of Covington Mayor Mark Johnson shares in an email update information concerning the water bill increase and recent glitches in the billing cycle. Sign up for Mayor Mark’s email updates at www.covla.com.
From Mayor Mark Johnson:
Dear Residents and Business Owners,
This month we rolled out the utility rate hike that is helping fund the police officer pay raise. There is one glitch in the roll out, one glitch Covid related and a third typical concern:
1) Three hundred customers with 1″ water lines were mis-coded in the change. This is evident if your water charge is greater than your sewer charge. All of these have been adjusted. If you like, you can e-mail me for your new adjusted amount. If you do pay the full amount, the difference will be credited on the next bill. Sorry for the inconvenience.
2) We experienced a Covid outbreak among Meter Techs. Due to the manpower shortage, the current billing cycle ranges from 37 to 43 days rather than the typical 30 days. This should result in your bill being 25 -33% higher than normal. Add to that the $20 – $30 rate hike and BOOM … your bill is 50% higher than usual. This is an anomaly and should not continue.
If the higher bill presents a problem for you, please e-mail me. We will make arrangements.
3) Meter readings: Many of our water meters have reached the end of their life expectancy. If your water usage reports 5 times or more greater than the norm, please let us know. We will order a re-read. Sidenote: We are currently replacing about 50 old meters each week with new meters.
With the above in mind, if you have a concern about your current bill, please e-mail a copy of it directly to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am overseeing the resolution of concerns.
Statement from St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper:
“Moving to Phase 3 is the right thing to do for us at this time, and we appreciate the Governor’s decision. I want to thank him for his for his continued leadership and his consideration of my formal request, as well as the resolutions put forth by the St. Tammany Parish Council and the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, requesting the ability to move forward. I have faith in our citizens that we will continue to take personal responsibility to do what is necessary to slow the spread and simultaneously support our local businesses. As I have said from the start of our emergency response to this pandemic, I want to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy,” Cooper said.
“We, as a community, have risen to the call, to take personal responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of our citizens — especially the most vulnerable. We want to begin to resume a sense of normalcy, and to strike the balance for the health of our economy.”
For the past three years, NAMI St. Tammany has populated the beautiful Mandeville Lakefront with hundreds of walkers, showing support for mental health awareness, advocacy, and support, growing larger each year.
With the impacts of COVID-19, our daily lives and routines have been interrupted, leaving uncertainty, anxiety, added stress and often depression. Many individuals living with a mental illness are struggling to maintain their recovery while others are experiencing mental health symptoms for the first time. We are just beginning to see the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health. Now, more than ever, we want to show our community during the pandemic that “You are not alone.”
Unable to rally as usual this year, we have chosen to bring our 4th Annual NAMIWalks St. Tammany event to a virtual platform. On Saturday, October 10th, NAMI St. Tammany joins over 70 NAMIWalks virtual events across the country uniting for “A National Day of Hope” to show solidarity in our mission to increase awareness for mental health and recovery.
A Virtual Walk means you get to choose how you want to participate. How do you practice self-care? Take a walk around your neighborhood, share your story on social media, or host a virtual yoga party. Get creative to show your advocacy and support.
We invite everyone to join us, wherever you are, to remind our community that mental health matters and resources are available to help. Together we will continue to work toward our goal of #MentalHealthforAll.
Saturday, October 10th – NAMIWalks St. Tammany Online
From the St. Tammany Parish Health System 08/24/2020
Today at St. Tammany Health System, 19 patients are in COVID care with census of 155, and 294 COVID cases discharged since the pandemic began. Please continue to do your part to slow the spread of COVID in our community by washing your hands, wearing a mask, staying six feet away from others and isolating yourself when you don’t feel well.
As we continue to care for our community for all patient needs, we are also watching the two tropical weather systems in the Gulf of Mexico. Please rest assured, your community health system is ready to care for you and your family regardless of the weather. Both emergency departments, the main hospital, all our clinics, diagnostic centers and programs are open as usual today and will continue to monitor weather conditions as the week progresses.
If you have an appointment or procedure later this week and have concerns about weather impeding your plans, please discuss your concerns with your physician’s office or connect with us at 985-898-4001 or 985-871-5665. You may prefer a video visit or a later scheduled procedure or appointment, as appropriate.