Several government leaders, including this area's state representative and senator, have signed a letter urging Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike to set up a regional COVID-19 vaccination site in central Illinois.

Area Rep. Dan Caulkins and Sen. Chapin Rose signed the letter, in addition to Piatt County Board Chairman Ray Spencer and DeWitt County Board Chairman Terry Ferguson.

Health officials also signed the letter, including DeWitt-Piatt Bi-County Health Department Administrator Dave Remmert.

The letter, from Crossing Healthcare in Decatur, said:

“Dear Governor Pritzker and Director Ezike,

“I am writing to request consideration be given to Crossing Healthcare’s efforts to be chosen to participate in the State of Illinois’ direct vaccine allocation program for FQHC’s as a regional mass vaccination hub.

“This request is prompted by the recent announcement of a program providing direct shipments of vaccine to several FQHC’s across the State of Illinois that mirrors a policy implemented at the Federal level by the Biden administration. The overall goal is to provide vaccine to the healthcare providers who are interacting with marginalized populations that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“Crossing Healthcare is poised to immediately leverage this opportunity to provide vaccine to our region.

“Attached you will find a plan that highlights our health center’s collaborations and infrastructure investments that we believe will be key in underpinning our success. As a federally designated health center operating for more than 40 years in our community, we are a trusted healthcare provider to some of the most vaccine hesitant populations in our region. This, coupled with our location and accessibility directly on public transit routes, will allow us to serve both the needs of the general population in our community as well as the needs of marginalized populations we have been committed to serving for decades.

“Another significant regional benefit to Crossing Healthcare acting as a mass vaccination hub is the large number of workers who travel to Decatur from surrounding counties for employment. Decatur and Macon county is a regional employment hub and ensuring that those who work here can conveniently access vaccine will increase the likelihood and speed of vaccinating our regional workforce.

“Local key partners including leaders at both local hospitals; Theresa Rutherford at HSHS St. Mary’s and Drew Early at Decatur Memorial Hospital, as well as our local health department administrator Brandi Binkley, have all engaged in collaboration with Crossing Healthcare and can ensure vaccine is administered swiftly, equitably and in a resource-efficient way across the community.

“Further, surrounding county leaders have voiced support for Crossing Healthcare’s efforts, recognizing the benefits of increased access to vaccine for their own community’s residents who work and conduct business in Decatur and Macon County. The signatures below represent and demonstrate wide-spread support from collaborative partners as well as regional community leaders.”

Signed by Tanya Andricks, RN, CEO Crossing Healthcare, and 15 others.