Our “virtual” Big Shots celebration is this Friday and to kick off the countdown, we’re highlighting all the amazing nominated community members, healthcare partners, and vaccine advocates chosen by their peers in recognition of their commitment to promoting health and preventing disease across Nevada.
First, let’s acknowledge being a fierce advocate for vaccines in this this day and age is no easy feat. There are sometimes challenging discussions to be had with neighbors. Wacky theories to disprove amongst online acquaintances. And months of advocating for flu shots to colleagues, patients, family and community members.
However, the following nominees pushed on, fearless in their commitment to public health and a healthy Nevada. For that, we thank them. Nevada is a healthier state because of their tireless and unwavering commitment to keeping our communities protected. All of them are Big Shots and with that said, the nominees are…
Therese Litterer, RN – Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health
Therese Litterer has been a community health nurse for 15 years, and until her recent retirement, was assigned to the community health offices in Yerington and Silver Springs. Therese won Healthy People 2020 awards in 2015, 2016, and 2017 for her practice’s immunization rates for teens and 2 year olds. Therese worked closely with the school nurses in her community to vaccinate students, as well as the Meals on Wheels truck to vaccinate homebound seniors. When the community nursing program recently hired 3 new community health nurses for programs in Fernley, Dayton, and Fallon; Therese trained them in vaccine storage and handling and vaccine administration.
Maggie Harbec, LPN – VA Sierra Nevada Health System
Maggie Harbec and the Occupational Health team organize and implement flu vaccinations throughout the hospital for veterans, employees, and volunteers. They have a flu cart in primary care, veterans can also get them during any appointment, as well as during their inpatient stay. They make it super easy and convenient for staff and patients to get vaccinated. The VA also provides all recommended vaccinations, but Maggie and this team’s commitment to flu vaccinations is worthy of recognition.
Nazanin Kazeminy – CVS Pharmacy
Nazanin is an incredibly talented pharmacist who strongly believes in immunizations and the goal of Immunize Nevada. In September, we needed an immunizer to administer flu vaccine for participants of the Donor Walk. CVS was able to send out Nazanin and her team, who worked diligently to immunize over 70 Donor Walk participants. Her staff handled the paperwork and checking insurance cards with ease. We are lucky to have passionate pharmacists like Nazanin in our community.
Outstanding Community Partner
City of Sparks
The City of Sparks has been an outstanding partner for the past three years. Their support of the Northern Nevada International Dragon Boat Festival has been instrumental in securing the event’s return to the Sparks Marina each year. The City of Sparks remains dedicated to supporting Immunize Nevada, GWN Events, and this family-friendly event. New in 2019, they supported the Inaugural Paddles and Palettes event at the Sparks Museum in partnership with Artown. With the addition of this unique event, Immunize Nevada is able to continue our mission of promoting health and preventing disease across northern Nevada and the state.
Nevada Health Link
Nevada Health Link provides community members with outstanding service, while always being cognizant of working with statewide partners to ensure they are maximizing their reach. Through the Immunize Nevada and Nevada Health Link partnership for various events throughout the year, Nevada Health Link has contributed not only monetary support, but also important resources for Immunize Nevada’s partners and community members. Partnerships like these are what healthcare collaboration is about - ensuring Nevadans are enrolling in health coverage, while being educated about preventive health resources.
Carson City Health and Human Services
Carson City Health and Human Services collaborated with school districts, community health nurses, volunteer nurses, parent volunteers, and healthcare organizations to deliver flu vaccines throughout Carson City, Douglas County, and Lyon County. In a six week time period (September and October 2019) sixty events were held resulting in almost 4,500 students and community members being vaccinated against seasonal flu. Events were held at every school in all three counties and several community locations in an effort to reach some of the most vulnerable populations.
As of November 11th, 2019, Hometown Health has administered over 6,200 vaccines at 20 different community sites, 73 corporate sites and 8 senior events. Events were offered in several counties including Washoe, Douglas, Carson, Lyon, and Churchill. As a community, high dose vaccine was in limited supply - but Hometown Health was able to provide high dose vaccines to those 65 and older, increasing the number administered by 75% over the previous year. By offering weekly clinics, the Hometown Health Influenza program successfully fulfilled its mission of providing an easy avenue for all individuals to obtain a flu shot.
Yurico Avila – Renown Health
Yurico Avila consistently demonstrates the qualities of a team player; having participated in a number of immunization coverage rate improvement projects for multiple Renown pediatric practices both for toddlers and adolescents. She is always the first person to jump into the taking on the tasks associated with increasing and/or maintaining immunization coverage. Whether it be aligning the patient roster in WebIZ to accurately reflect the practice’s patient population, seeking out education materials for the most common questions parents have about vaccines or reminding parents of patients that they are due for a particular vaccine, she makes every effort to ensure that the practice is successful in carrying out their immunization goals.
Veronica Galas, RN - Carson City Health and Human Services
Roni goes over and beyond in her duties at CCHHS as Clinical Services Manager. Many times Roni can be found under a table or carrying huge boxes to help complete a task for another employee. The care she has for her patients that enter CCHHS on immunization Thursdays really shows... she is always looking for a way to make it not only more comfortable for her patients but faster and more accessible so they do indeed come back! During the Back to School Season, she expanded services to families from all over Northern Nevada to help meet the increased demand from surrounding counties; helping hundreds of students start school protected and on time.
Vanessa Murillo – University of Nevada, Reno, Student
Vanessa began volunteering with Immunize Nevada as a Spanish Service Learning Student when the fall semester began at UNR. She has consistently displayed great communication skills, a passion for the work she does, and a positive attitude. Vanessa is always eager to help out at various outreach events and does Spanish translations when necessary. She has become a great asset to our team at Immunize Nevada, and it's always a joy to work alongside her. With her help, Immunize Nevada is able to provide much needed translated information to ensure everyone in our communities has access to the vaccines and healthcare they need.
Emmanuelle Garcia-Rider – University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine
Emma is a fierce advocate for immunizations, both as a psychiatric resident and as an Immunize Nevada volunteer. She is always encouraging her patients and colleagues to vaccinate. As an Immunize Nevada volunteer, Emma has traveled to rural Elko to do outreach at health fairs in the community. Emma is always eager to lend her knowledge about immunizations to all those she interacts with.
Susana Melgarejo – Carson City Health and Human Services
Susana is in the forefront of the vaccine clinic at Carson City Health and Human Services. She checks the current immunization status of every scheduled and walk-in patients, prints, forecasts needed vaccine(s) and recommends it to the parents and/or patients. She has been an active support to the health department especially during immunization clinics. With help from Susana, they are able to efficiently serve as many patients as possible, ensuring they have the information needed to make an knowledgeable decision when inquiring about vaccines during their visit.
David Livingston – Medicine on the Move
David has worked as the adult and pediatric RN on the Medicine on the Move mobile clinic since its inception. He not only provides excellent medical care regardless of the community they are serving, but he is especially compassionate, kind and understanding of the kids that come on board. During times that the mobile clinic provides immunizations at the local schools, he explains with care and consideration to the kids and families exactly what they need and will receive. He shows the parents how to hold their babies if they are receiving vaccines and talks to the older kids about why vaccines are important. He never rushes families and always answers any questions they have - I wish I had him for a nurse when I was little!
Emil Almachar – Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center
Emil is a nurse at Sunrise Hospital where he works in their emergency department, and previously served in the National Guard. Emil works diligently when providing medical care and understands that the emergency room can be a person's last choice if they have trouble accessing a stable medical home. Emil provides care for underserved populations ranging from those experiencing homelessness to underinsured populations. He strives to keep his community as healthy as possible and is currently in school to become a nurse practitioner. Emil reviews vaccination history when in contact with patients and promotes the flu vaccine and its effectiveness during flu season to ensure that community members are protected against the dangerous virus.
Lillie Hidaji, MD – Oasis Pediatrics
Dr. Hidaji attended Immunize Nevada’s HPV Announcement Training in May 2019; her enthusiasm for the training content and for immunization education in general was apparent both during the educational session and afterwards, when she asked to how she could get involved in spreading the importance of immunization to families and colleagues in the southern Nevada community. During one of Immunize Nevada’s southern Nevada back-to-school events, staff reported her adolescent vaccination ratios were nearly 3:3 (Tdap, MenACWY, and HPV!), further demonstrating her dedication to utilizing the training material and ensuring Nevada’s preteens/teens are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Outstanding Community Partner
Liberty Dental – Community Outreach, Eduardo Manchaca
Liberty Dental is a great community partner that is dedicated not only to supporting immunizations, but overall to improving the health of Nevada’s communities. Liberty Dental is dedicated to ensuring that all Nevadans have access to dental services, but they also promote additional community resources to ensure their clients have all aspects of health covered. Eduardo and the Liberty Dental team have been an engaged partner with Immunize Nevada through their participation at all community meetings, committee meetings, and outreach events.
Asian Community Development Council (ACDC)
ACDC holds a citizenship and health fair annually where Immunize Nevada offers free flu shots, in collaboration with a local pharmacy partner. About 70 vaccines are administered each year and the ACDC staff get vaccinated as well. ACDC has volunteers that speak over 11 different Asian languages and they work with Immunize Nevada to help explain the benefits of the flu vaccine to non-English speaking community members who may have questions or concerns. ACDC has regular contact with immigrant communities and refugee communities, and the partnership with Immunize Nevada helps point them in the right direction when they have questions about where they can access vaccines and other healthcare needs.
Tasheka Powell, RN – Southern Nevada Health District
Tasheka is a community health nurse that works at the Southern Nevada Health District. She is one of the lead nurses assigned for the Hepatitis A strike team. She always comes with a positive and unbiased attitude that radiates to her coworkers and her volunteers. She treats patients experiencing homelessness with dignity and goes out of her way to keep patients comfortable and well informed on health issues in the community. Tasheka sacrifices a consistent work schedule to go above and beyond for her patients, ensuring that some of the most vulnerable community members in Nevada are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The nursing students and staff, especially Jessica Marmar and Jeannette Calderon, are Outstanding Champions. While the students are required to complete their community health rotation at Immunize Nevada, their dedication to our organization, outreach events, and vaccines, has been a joy to be around. During our Back to School season, the students took initiative to look up WebIZ records, help nurses with vaccine paperwork, comfort children who are scared of the vaccines, manage long lines, and staff the Immunize Nevada outreach table. The partnership with Chamberlain University has been so beneficial for both Immunize Nevada and the school: the students are able to gain a different perspective on community health while becoming vaccine advocates in their personal and professional lives, and Immunize Nevada is able to garner more help with events and education to the community.
Jessica Ciesliekski / Quiana Shepard – Healthcare Partners-Tenaya
Jessica and Quiana work hard as a team to ensure that their patients are being fully immunized within the Healthcare Partners, Tenaya location. They have implemented processes to bring in patients to complete vaccination series as well as ensuring the practice encourages and promotes immunization at every visit. With their combined help, Healthcare Partners is ensuring that their patients are up to date on necessary vaccines. Their diligent work ensures that their community is as healthy as possible and protected from diseases with the power of vaccines!
To join in thanking our nominees and recognizing the winners, please join us on Friday, December 13, at 8:00 a.m. from virtually anywhere, online at immunizenevada.org/bigshots and on our social media pages to give them a shout out and thank them for their tireless work. If you can't join us on December 13, you can still support our mission by donating through our website or you can text BIGSHOTS to 44-321 and donate from the convenience of your phone.