MPH Student Highlight Katie Lelonek


IPCC Newsletter | Summer 2021

Katie Lelonek is a Community Health Educator (CHE) at the Monroe County Health Department in Sparta, WI, and is currently enrolled in the St. Ambrose Master of Public Health (MPH) program.

Lelonek earned her undergraduate degree at Winona State University (WSU) in Public Health and participated in the bridge program from WSU to the online SAU MPH Program. As a CHE, Lelonek helps coordinate COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the Monroe County area. Since February, the department has focused on mass vaccination clinics, but as the vaccine supply increased and fewer citizens scheduled their shots, clinics began phasing into a more targeted approach. Lelonek is now assisting in planning a vaccine clinic for one Wisconsin tradition: the annual Monroe County Dairy Breakfast. Education on smoking cessation will also be offered during the farmer's 15-minute wait after receiving the vaccine.

"Meeting people where they are is what matters, especially in these times," Lelonek said. "The farming community is a large part of the Monroe County area, so bringing the vaccine to the farmers while they partake in tradition is a creative way to increase access in the county."

Lelonek has also assisted in the planning and implementation of a vaccine clinic for the Spanish-speaking population in the county and is busy working on a project to support unsheltered and homebound individuals get vaccinated while addressing their additional needs. Identifying these populations can be difficult in a rural county and requires a lot of outreach, but Lelonek and her colleagues at the health department are ready and willing to do what it takes to get the vaccine to as many community members as possible.

Lelonek's time at the Monroe County Health Department has allowed her to take on leadership roles in community health education on COVID-19 and the vaccines available as well as the development of vaccine clinic strategies that align with the needs of the community.


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