Aspirus Merrill Hospital, Merrill, 2022 Community Benefits

Merrill Effort to Provide Free Flu Vaccines and a Meal Expands

For the last three years, members of the Merrill community had the opportunity to protect themselves and their community as well as receiving a free meal thanks to the staff at Aspirus Merrill Hospital. 

What originally started three years ago as a targeted effort to increase access to flu shots to the Merrill community, the one-day event has thrived through the COVID-19 pandemic by adapting to a drive-through delivery model that in total has provided more than 500 free flu shots and approximately 1,500 meals to the Merrill community over the life of the program.

“We are extremely proud to be able to provide this service to the Merrill community,” says Jane Bentz, Aspirus Merrill Hospital Foundation and Community Outreach Director. 

Attendees not only get a free flu shot, but a free meal specially prepared by nutrition services staff at Aspirus Merrill Hospital. Popular favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, beef tips and gravy and turkey with all the fixings have proved popular with participations. 

In addition to adapting to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the event has grown to include a partnership with the Hmong and Hispanic Communication Network Project (H2N). H2N collaborates with public health organizations, health systems, resource agencies, and community organizations to provide Hmong and Hispanic communities with resources and tools to better withstand the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional flu vaccines were secured by Aspirus Merrill Hospital to help H2N provide a pop-up clinic for the Hispanic population in Merrill. 

Since May 2020, H2N clinics and outreach efforts in north central Wisconsin have provided over 1,000 people with COVID-19 vaccines, over 500 people with flu vaccines, and thousands with COVID-19 resources in their own language. Community members are also encouraged to share their concerns and ideas, which allows H2N to better understand and serve these communities.