Despite the many challenges of 2021, a number of Wisconsinites have shown signs of growth, innovation, and generosity during the tumultuous year. WTMJ is highlighting those who made a positive difference in their industry and/or community in 2021.
During the week of Dec. 12th, the station will unveil members of the WTMJ Wisconsin Standouts of the Year.
The first ‘Standout’ to be announced: Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson.
In January 2021, Johnson tookover a department in the middle of a pandemic.
In the past year, the city administered over 160,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Wisconsin Center. But in order to make the vaccine more available to the entire city, the Milwaukee Health Department hosted nearly 550 mobile vaccination clinics at schools, places of worship, community centers, festivals, etc. The mobile implementation led to more than 16,000 doses administered. The department also offered in-home vaccination efforts and door to door canvassing, administering another 1,500 doses.
“The hardest part is that you’re in a position to do what’s right for the community and at the end of the day there are no good answers and there are no good decision,” Johnson told WTMJ about dealing with COVID-19 for a second consecutive year. “Although it’s been challenging for us working in science and working in public health for the last 20 months it’s been an opportunity to build relationships with organizations, businesses, people who we didn’t have relationships with before.”
The Milwaukee Health Department has provided accessible testing options since the beginning of the pandemic and has administered over 400,000 COVID-19 tests to the community
Along with the vaccine administration, Johnson has been focused on building a strong foundation for the department. It has included new hiring and staffing initiatives, developing a new five year strategic plan, which ensures the staff, stakeholders, and community are working toward common goals that align with the department’s anti-racist and health equity focus.
Johnson has also been involved in the implementation of the new Electronic Health Record.
Johnson, a UW-Madison graduate, earned a master of public health degree from Tulane in 2003.
Would you like to nominate a WTMJ Wisconsin Standout of the Year? Submit here!