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Health Department gets help with COVID-19 call center

County Board steps in with funding

2/8/2021, 9:36 p.m.
In a special meeting the Will County Board authorized a contract for a new COVID-19 call center to assist the ...

In a special meeting the Will County Board authorized a contract for a new COVID-19 call center to assist the Will County Health Department with their call response. The Health Department has been inundated with inquiries in the last few weeks from residents seeking information on COVID-19 vaccinations.

"The Health Department has been overwhelmed fielding calls from residents seeking information about the vaccine," said County Board Speaker Mimi Cowan (D-Naperville). "The County Board has stepped in with extra funding to make sure residents get the information that they need and can get scheduled for a vaccination appointment."

County Board member and Public Health and Safety Committee Chair Rachel Ventura (D-Joliet) emphasized that a lack of vaccine stock has hampered the immunization rollout throughout the state and made scheduling appointments difficult.

"There is a shortage of vaccines in Illinois and nationally," said Ventura. "This makes it very challenging to schedule appointments because the Health Department doesn't always know when their next shipment will be delivered, let alone how many doses will be included."

The County Board authorized the contract with Harris and Harris to operate a call center that will support the Health Department. Harris and Harris will be charged with fielding intake requests and providing follow up calls to remind residents of their appointment and when they can schedule their second dose. The contract will be for a six-month period costing $1.6 million. The county will use funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that were distributed last year.

"We still have funds from the CARES Act that we can use to fund this call center," said County Board Minority Leader Mike Fricilone (R-Homer Glen). "There is no question that this is an appropriate way to use these funds. Residents are relying on the Health Department for their vaccinations and the County Board has stepped up to fund this need."

Harris and Harris operates call centers nationally and is expected to hit the ground running. County Board leaders expect the new call center to begin fielding calls as soon as the staff is hired and trained which could happen in the next week or two.

"Residents can expect better response times and follow up for scheduling and appointments when they call the health department," said Cowan.

County Board members are urging their constituents to register for their vaccination online at the Will County Health Department's website, www.willcountyhealth.org or by calling the Health Department at 815-723-9713. Residents will be notified when there is vaccination available and it is time to schedule their appointment.