COVID-19: Thank You—Moving Forward Together

Public health is where you are

We appreciate you for supporting public health, Wisconsin. From working non-stop on the front lines, keeping our hospitals from getting overwhelmed, to getting the public the information they need to stay healthy, our state’s health care and public health professionals have tirelessly worked to protect and promote the health and wellness of Wisconsinites.

While we recognize all we have done over the past two years to protect the health and safety of Wisconsinites, we also want to thank our public health workers. We would not be where we are today without them.

Messages of gratitude

As we are all working to support frontline workers, please take a moment to say thank you to our public health heroes, those who have and continue to work behind the scenes, or on the front lines, to protect our communities across Wisconsin. 

Now more than ever, your messages of gratitude are empowering and motivating, especially as our public health heroes continue their efforts to keep Wisconsinites safe from COVID-19 and allow people to get back to their more normal routines.

Thank Your Hero View Messages

Tour stops

See where DHS officials visited so far.

Brown County

April 6, 2022 - Prevea Health Executive Office

DHS recognizes National Public Health Week during Thank You Tour in Brown County:

"Every day, local public health workers go above and beyond to protect the health of our friends, neighbors, and communities—especially during the extraordinary circumstances of the past two years, their work has been nothing short of heroic," said Gov. Evers. "Wisconsin’s public health infrastructure plays a critically important role in the health and wellness of folks across our state. I’m proud to join in recognizing and celebrating their hard work, selflessness, and dedication, and I encourage others to join me by celebrating National Public Health Week."

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake and DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge were at Prevea Health in Green Bay today to recognize the Brown County Health Department and local health care partners for their response to the pandemic.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake speaking at Prevea Health in Brown County. DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standbridge speaking at Prevea Health in Brown County. 
Left photo to right: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake and Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge speaking at Prevea Health in Brown County. 

Dane County

March 24, 2022 - Mendota Mental Health Institute (MMHI)

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake and other staff from the DHS Office of the Secretary, Division of Care and Treatment Services, and Department of Children and Families visited MMHI and thanked facility staff for the remarkable work on all levels. She also had the opportunity to hear directly from staff and learn about their daily responsibilities. One staff shared, "The patients here at MMHI are excellent artists and musicians. I am glad to be making an impact and helping our vulnerable youth get better to be successful in our communities." Thank you, MMHI staff, for all that you do.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff at Mendota Mental Health Institute. DHS Thank you tour, Sec'y Timberlake at MMHIDHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff at Mendota Mental Health Institute.
From left photo to right: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff at Mendota Mental Health Institute.


March 14, 2022 - Alliant Energy Center

Governor Evers and DHS announce statewide tour to recognize COVID-19 heroes and local community public health efforts throughout the pandemic:

“Over the past two years, we have witnessed millions of people across Wisconsin going above and beyond to help us keep our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and communities healthy and safe,” said Gov. Evers. “We’ve worked hard to get our state and our economy in the best position to recover and rebound, and we could not have done this without the support of so many Wisconsinites and frontline workers. Thank you.”

Governor Evers, DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake, Major General Paul Knapp, and Janel Heinrich, Public Health Madison-Dane County Director with other Dane County community health leaders. 
Photo: Governor Evers, DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake, Major General Paul Knapp, and Janel Heinrich, Public Health Madison-Dane County Director with other Dane County community health leaders. 

As part of the Thank You Tour, DHS officials will be traveling across Wisconsin from March through May to see and hear directly from those who have been serving on the COVID-19 frontlines. Stops include local health departments and tribal health clinics, aging and disability resource centers, COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites, health care facilities, vaccination community outreach grant awardee sites, schools, and health care industry events. The Thank You Tour recognizes that Wisconsin is in a better place today to respond to the virus due to the support and sacrifices of those who stepped up to protect their communities.

“This tour is an opportunity to show appreciation for the work that has been done all across the state to fight COVID-19, and to hear directly from communities as we discuss how we move forward,” said Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of investing in a strong public health infrastructure so that we may be better prepared for what may come in the future.”

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake speaking at Thank You Tour kick-off event in Dane County.
Photo: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake speaking at the Alliant Energy Center.

Tour events will be a chance for communities to share their thoughts on lessons learned during the pandemic, as well as how we can leverage the tools we have available to confront COVID-19 going forward. Additionally, there will be an emphasis on prioritizing the mental health of all Wisconsinites as we continue to confront COVID-19. 

La Crosse County

March 16, 2022 - La Crosse County Administrative Center

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake’s statement about Thank You Tour’s second stop with La Crosse County health care heroes:

"I’m so pleased I was able to meet with and recognize COVID-19 heroes in La Crosse County who have worked tirelessly to slow the spread of this virus. This second stop on the Thank You Tour included a roundtable discussion with La Crosse County public health officers and board members, a Mayo Clinic/Mayo Clinic Health System administrator, Gundersen Health System doctor, the Superintendent of the School District of La Crosse, and the Executive Director of Great Rivers United Way. All of them partnered to offer information, guidance, and mitigation strategies throughout the pandemic that have been used by businesses, schools, and all Wisconsinites to protect themselves and their communities. What each of these partners did to participate in this response individually and locally mattered, not only to western Wisconsin, but to the whole state. On behalf of Governor Tony Evers, I also presented a Certificate of Commendation to the La Crosse County Public Health Department to honor their invaluable contribution to the community and recognize the exceptional public service to the people of Wisconsin."

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with La Crosse County public health officers and board members.
Photo: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with La Crosse County public health officers and board members. 


"Our robust discussion covered local prevention efforts, focusing on addressing social determinants of health and the strain the pandemic placed on individuals and families. I was able to talk to those on the frontlines, hearing from them about the importance of collaborating with partners, and retaining and strengthening those partnerships. We know those will be extremely valuable as we work to stay nimble and adapt our approaches in an ever-changing landscape. We appreciate the emphasis our partners have placed on innovation as they respond to this pandemic. We have learned how we can build resilience to weather future upswings if they come. COVID-19 is still a part of our lives. But I know that because of our partnerships with these local heroes, we are better able to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsinites as we move forward together." said Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake speaking at La Crosse County community roundtable discussion.
Photo: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake speaking at La Crosse County community roundtable discussion.

Milwaukee County

March 22, 2022 - Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center and Health Connections, Inc.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake’s statement about Thank You Tour stops with Milwaukee County health care heroes:

"It was an honor to meet with multiple partners who bring their expertise in delivering healthcare and promoting health to everything they do, and especially to their work in protecting the health and safety of Wisconsin’s marginalized and underserved communities, both throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and prior to it. Hearing stories and experiences from our Milwaukee-area Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Vaccination Community Outreach (VCO) grantees was truly rewarding. Today’s stops on the Thank You: Moving Forward Together Tour kicked off with a roundtable discussion hosted by Dr. Lyle Ignace and the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, including representatives from the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, and Progressive Community Health Clinic. Joined by Dr. Michelle Robinson from the Office of Health Equity and Gail Nahwahquaw from the DHS Tribal Affairs Office, participants identified strengths, challenges, and strategies that will help them better support the health and well-being of the communities they serve as we move forward. In addition to discussing ways that DHS can better collaborate with community health partners, participants emphasized the need to work collectively to address the stark health disparities that predated COVID-19 and that persist in Wisconsin’s Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. The three big takeaways from this robust discussion include the need to increase access to culturally-responsive behavioral health services, invest in the health care workforce, and continue strengthening relationships with local, state, and federal partners."

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake poses with DHS staff and Milwaukee community health care leaders after a roundtable discussion at the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center. 
Photo: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake poses with DHS staff and Milwaukee community health care leaders after a roundtable discussion at the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center. 

The second Thank You Tour event of the day was hosted by the community-based non-profit Health Connections, Inc., and its founder and CEO Ericka Sinclair.

"Along with its commitment to improving the health of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable, Health Connections Inc. is a DHS Minority Health Program and VCO grantee. This event amplified the crucial work of all of our VCO partners in delivering services, support, and education to Wisconsinites amid COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, community-based organizations had been serving on the frontlines, addressing the health, wellness, and economic needs of their community members. From providing wraparound services such as delivering groceries, coordinating ride-shares, and providing housing supports, these organizations have strong foundations as trusted voices in their community. And with the VCO program, we are able to amplify the trusted relationships these partners have with their communities by investing in the work our partner organizations have been doing for years. Since the program launched, we have provided nearly $18 million to support more than 149 organizations like Health Connections Inc. in work such as hosting vaccination clinics, promoting vaccine confidence, and serving as conduits connecting local, state, and federal partners to the populations they serve. The commitment and dedication of our FQHCs and VCO grantees embody what is means to be a COVID-19 hero, and I thank all of these organizations, in Milwaukee and around the state, for their work to promote and protect the health of Wisconsinites.” said Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with Milwaukee County community heath care leaders.
From left to right: Jeff Roman, Executive Director of the Office on African American Affairs, Milwaukee County; Ericka Sinclair, CEO, Health Connections, Inc.; Christine Cordova, Public Health Nurse, North Shore Health Department; DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake; Dennis Skrajewski, Executive Director, Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics at the Vaccine Community Outreach event hosted by Health Connections, Inc.

Racine County

March 23, 2022 - AMI Expeditionary Healthcare Vaccination Clinic 

DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge visited AMI Expeditionary Healthcare Vaccination Clinic in Racine to recognize its one-year anniversary:

“Our partnership with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare has been key in the statewide effort to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations. We thank AMI for their dedication in working closely with local, state, and federal healthcare partners to coordinate the community-based vaccination clinics around the state. As a result, we were able to get more shots in arms and help protect Wisconsinites from COVID-19.”

DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge in Racine County. DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge with AMI health care workers in Racine County.
From left photo to right: DHS Deb Standridge speaking at AMI Expeditionary Healthcare Vaccination Clinic and poses with AMI staff.

Sauk County

April 11, 2022 - Sauk County Health Department

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake's statement about Thank You Tour’s town hall in Sauk County:

"It was a honor to meet with and recognize public health partners in Sauk County today. The latest stop on the Thank You Tour included a robust discussion with public health officials and partners from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Grant County, Monroe County, Richland County, Sauk County, and Vernon County. Today’s town hall was an opportunity to thank our public health partners who have demonstrated commitment and devotion to the health and well-being of not only their communities but every Wisconsinite. That’s what public health is: working to protect and improve the lives of those in your community, whether that be through detecting, preventing and responding to diseases, sharing information about environmental hazards, or promoting healthy lifestyles. And on behalf of Governor Tony Evers, a Certificate of Commendation will be sent to all Local and Tribal Health Departments to recognize their invaluable contribution to the community and recognize the exceptional public service to the people of Wisconsin.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake speaking at Sauk County. 
Photo: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake, speaking at Sauk County Health Department. 

Our discussion today focused on the lessons learned over the past two years and how these will be infused into our response moving forward. It covered the need to invest in public health, ways to enhance local and state coordination, recovery efforts, and the strain the pandemic placed on our partners, whether they be in local or tribal public health departments, emergency management, health care systems, or other settings. We were able to discuss the importance of supporting those who have been on the frontlines and ensure our public health partners have access to mental health services and the resources they need to continue their critical work. This included a discussion about the Resilient Wisconsin resources available. Many of our partners in the room shared gratitude toward one another for the support and coordination between counties and tribes. We know these partnerships will be extremely valuable as we continue to confront and adapt to COVID-19. We appreciate the emphasize our partners placed on the need to lead the COVID-19 response with kindness and respect for one another. Although COVID-19 is still a part of our lives, by supporting our public health partners, we are better able to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsinites as we move forward together. A special thanks to our host of today’s event, Sauk County Health Department." 

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake and DHS staff with Sauk County community health care leaders.
Photo: Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake and DHS leadership with partners from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Grant County, Monroe County, Richland County, Sauk County, and Vernon County. 

Winnebago County

April 7, 2022 - Wisconsin Resource Center (WRC) and Winnebago Mental Health Institute (WMHI)

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake and other staff from the DHS Office of the Secretary and Division of Care and Treatment Services visited with staff at WRC and WMHI. Secretary-designee Timberlake expressed appreciation for the hard work of staff at all levels at both facilities in responding to the challenges of the last two years. Staff also had an opportunity to share their reflections on what they were proud of in how they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges they continue to face. Staff from all disciplines were represented in the groups that gathered at each facility.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff at Wisconsin Resource Center. DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff at Wisconsin Resource Center. 

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff at Winnebago Mental Health Institute. DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff at Winnebago Mental Health Institute.
From left photo to right: DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake with DHS staff from Wisconsin Resource Center and Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

Partner toolkit materials

Graphics

Below are graphics in different sizes that you can add to your website or social media accounts as a cover photo!

Thank you tour, Help us thank those who stepped up

Thank you tour, Help us thank those who stepped up

Thank you tour, Help us thank those who stepped up

Social media

Social media is an easy way to reach and connect with individuals and communities. Use the social media posts and graphics below to spread the message by sharing to your networks!

We will continue to address the impacts of COVID-19

Thank you Wisconsin!

Thanks for stepping up

March, April, May tour stops

Saying thanks in multiple languages 

Poster

While most of us stay connected digitally, posters may be more effective in our rural communities, community centers, and other local non-profit organizations. 

Poster template (DOCX)

Learn more about public health

Helping hands icon

Public health is more than meets the eye. Public health workers are heroes that step up when we need them the most. Join them! 

 

Last Revised: April 22, 2022

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Helpful resources

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