At 8 p.m. last Friday two Duluth residents were put in the position of having to put their heads together and do some fast thinking.
Cody Privette and his mother, Jill Ruthford, had just received some very unwelcome news from an automated call – the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccination for Cody’s 75-year-old grandmother, Kathy Lindberg, would not be administered the following morning in Mountain Iron, a community one hour north her home in Proctor. Lindberg’s vaccination shot would be administered in Fergus Falls – a four-hour drive from Duluth.
The pair phoned every state call center they could hoping they would not have to travel clear across north-central Minnesota for the all-important vaccine shot. Despite their frantic calls it appeared the cards were stacked against them.
In desperation, Privette reached out to the Fergus Falls Police Department and was put in touch with Fergus Falls Police Sgt. Abram Silbernagel.
After hearing about the spot they were in from Privette, Silbernagel drove to the vaccination clinic and went to bat for them with the clinic’s incident commander. The commander eventually resolved the problem and Lindberg received her vaccination shot the following afternoon in Mountain Iron.
The true depth of what Silbernagel had done for the Proctor grandmother and her family was brought out in a letter sent by Privette earlier this week to Fergus Falls Chief of Public Safety Kile Bergren.
“Hello Chief Bergren,
I wanted to share a note about how helpful one of your officers was this past weekend.
“My grandmother was scheduled for her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday the 20th. Being from the Duluth area, she was originally scheduled to have her shot in Mountain Iron MN, the same location as her first shot. Friday at about 8 p.m. we received an automated message confirming her appointment in Fergus Falls instead of Mountain Iron. We frantically called every MN state call center we could to figure out where we actually were supposed to go without any success as they had closed for the week a few hours prior.
“Grasping at straws and unable to get a hold of anyone, I called the Fergus Falls non-emergency line. Dispatch relayed my message and I was connected to a Sergeant Abram Silbernagel. He was so incredibly understanding of our situation and so graciously drove across town and checked in at the Vaccine Clinic incident commander for us. He was an incredible advocate for us and ultimately we were able to speak to the incident commander and get the appointment corrected and confirmed. My grandmother received her vaccine that afternoon. The MDH officials didn’t mince words, if it wasn’t for your officer going above and beyond, the mistake by the state would have resulted in my grandma not receiving her second dose.
“My wife and I had our first child, my grandma’s first great-grandchild last year. Because of the pandemic, my grandma has not been able to spend near as much time as she would like with our daughter. Your officer’s actions may seem so simple to some, but it means so much to me and my family. We are one step closer to normal, and for that I am incredibly grateful.
Cody Privette,” reads the letter.
Contacted Wednesday morning, Bergren expressed his feelings in a couple different ways.
“There are a couple of things that come to mind. One the need for the state to have partnerships in these state-run clinics so that there is a local point of contact and the incredibly important role local entities like OTC Public Health and Fergus Falls Public Safety played in supporting these clinics,” Bergren said. “Also, I think his acts exemplify the attitude of all of our staff to put the public first and help out regardless of type or severity of need.”