Liberty, NY – Sullivan County’s Public Health Services and partners were honored by the NYS Department of Health last month upon the successful conclusion of a massive, coordinated effort to avoid a local measles outbreak similar to what New York City faced this summer.
“Sullivan County ultimately confirmed 19 cases of measles, and most of those cases were individuals who hadn’t been vaccinated against the disease,” noted Loretta A. Santilli, Director of the NYS Department of Health’s Office of Public Health Practice, in a visit to Public Health Services on November 25. “We’re here today to recognize the heroic, compassionate and unstinting work of Sullivan County Public Health officials, Public Health Director Nancy McGraw and her remarkable team, who reached out to the community, engaged them and educated them to stop one of the world’s most contagious diseases from spreading.”
“Everybody just pitched in and helped, and we worked together as a team,” acknowledged McGraw, whose staff prioritized the measles response amidst an already significant workload. “It was really a learning experience, and I can’t say enough about the support from the State as well.”
“Teamwork, as always, got the job done, and I thank everyone who worked alongside County staff to successfully avoid a large-scale situation,” noted Sullivan County Health & Family Services Commissioner Joe Todora. “We needed every single person, from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to the State to local camp owners and citizens, to realize the positive outcome that we did.”
“The potential crisis of a large measles outbreak at the height of Sullivan County’s busy summer season was not lost on us, and I am proud to say that County employees once again delivered top-tier service to both local residents and visitors this past summer,” said Deputy County Manager John Liddle, who served as Incident Commander in the measles response. “The safety and health of everyone in the County remained our utmost priority, and I am pleased to join the State in affirming we preserved public health and safety.”
“I was privileged to lead the Legislature’s Health & Family Services Committee during this situation, which afforded me the opportunity to witness our team’s excellent effort firsthand,” remarked District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz. “All of Sullivan County can be proud of – and take comfort in – what they accomplished.”
Public Health Services also received a letter of thanks from Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.
“Our Nation’s longstanding high immunization rates and the successful public health response to this outbreak is testament to the commitment and effectiveness of state and local health departments, like Sullivan County, and engaged communities across the country,” she wrote.