22774 H1N1 Town Hall and Stakeholder Community Meetings - Non-Traditional Outreach

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Grand Hall
Steve Flores, Crisis Communication Certification , Special Projects Manager, Public Health - County of Kern

Background: General public fear over the pending H1N1 pandemic demanded new non-traditional methods to communicate calm, educate with facts, tout prevention and reinforce the importance and safety of vaccination. Kern County in the Central Valley of California,   held Town hall and Stake holders meetings in the early phases of H1N1 awareness.

Setting: Town Hall meetings were held in strategic locations throughout Kern County. The meetings were open to the public with the offer to translate into the languages familiar to the community. The Stakeholder Meetings were invitation-only meetings and designed for specific target groups such as Superintendent of Schools, Hospital CEO’s, News Directors, Medical Associations and Business Associations.

Population: Stakeholder meetings were targeted at specific groups who would be impacted or would have the greatest impact with H1N1 services or activity. Town Hall meetings were open venues and attracted families, grandparents, concerned citizens, educators, medical personnel, emergency responders and media.

Project Description: The overall project was designed to assert Public Health’s leadership, demonstrate collaboration as H1N1 activity escalated, and to calm the general community’s concern over the pandemic. A panel of Public Health Managers provided H1N1 information at each Stakeholder meeting. Information presented at the Stakeholder meetings was “adjusted” to fit the interest of that specific target group. The Town Hall meetings were coordinated thru the Board of Supervisors who individually hosted each event. The Public Health Officer, Director of Public Health, Hospital representative and school superintendents from the respective areas served on the Town Hall Meeting panel. The panel of experts fielded any H1N1 questions from the public.

Results/Lessons Learned: The overwhelming influx of H1N1 information from multiple sources to the community provided an excellent opportunity to showcase Kern County Public Health as the resident local expert in areas of community concern.

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