Mayor on Duty

At last month’s town board meeting I thanked all who have made the Highlands Cashiers Vaccination Clinic possible. I want to take the time to again recognize this outstanding service to the community again. The clinic served not just Highlands and Cashiers, but an entire two county region. 

Over 22 nonprofit and government agencies have been involved in this astounding effort.  Around 200 people have volunteered including doctors, nurses and other medical personnel. Regular and not so regular citizens have also stepped forward to help.

For example, Reverend Ford of First Baptist Church stepped down from his pulpit to become an outstanding traffic and parking lot manager. Retired doctors and nurses have played critical roles as health screeners and vaccinators.

There have been many personnel from the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital who have volunteered their time and expertise following the leadership of their CEO, Tom Neal. The public health departments of both Macon and Jackson Counties have assumed leading roles in making the clinic possible. 

Macon County Emergency Management Services personnel have been on site for each clinic to make sure bad reactions to the vaccine can be addressed immediately. The Highlands Police Department and the Macon and Jackson County Sheriff Departments have backed the program.

The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation has provided key backing. If any unforeseen need occurred, they stepped up to take care of it. The Highlands Cashiers Art League transformed their display panels into injection privacy screens.

The Rotary clubs from both Cashiers and Highlands have produced a critical cadre of volunteers. If there is ever a task that requires community involvement, Rotarians are some of the first to step forward.

The chambers of commerce from both Highlands and Cashiers also supported the clinics. The Neighbors Helping Neighbors, an off shoot of the Highlands Chamber, has been involved. The Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic has provided their support.

The Highlands and Blue Ridge Pharmacies, along with hospital pharmacists, have played critical roles in insuring the vaccines are prepared and ready for use. Other groups like the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad and Vision Cashiers are also clinic supporters, as well as Harris Hospital.

What has been so impressive is the outreach to the underserved in our community. The Community Care Clinic, the International Friendship Center, Pisgah Legal Services, and the Vecinos Farmworkers Health Program are all instrumental in addressing this critical need. They will continue to make sure no one is left behind.

I also want to thank some people that were behind the scene organizers. Robin Neal worked tirelessly in setting up many of the technical procedures that were essential to scheduling appointments.

I know Mike Murphy, Jerry Moore and Marc Hehn played key roles in setting up the necessary computer system that make the clinic operations work so smooth. Lester Norris, Director of the Highlands Recreation Department, has been at all the clinics to make sure the facility functions smoothly.

Many people have expressed their appreciation to these volunteers and organizations. I believe the best way to show our appreciation is to continue following the basic protocols of wearing a mask, washing hands, and socially distancing.

We are at a critical time where everyone should follow these basic protocols until a large part of the population are vaccinated and infection rates drastically fall. Everyone has a role to play. We all can make a difference.

Thankfully, we live in a caring community of volunteers who have made this clinic a reality. 

  • Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor


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