March 18, 2021
Lake Charles, Louisiana Team Hosts Local Vaccine Clinic
Still reeling from the effect of last year’s crippling hurricanes and recent snowstorms, the crew at Lake Charles has had their share of issues to face. They determined Covid wouldn't be one of them.
Plant manager Louis Pierre Clement said in addition to keeping everyone safe during the pandemic, his team also had to work to safely bring production back online after last year’s hurricanes.
“Production was down for nearly three months due to the hurricanes. Many were living in temporary housing as roofs awaited repair. It was quite a year. We’re back, we’re strong and fully functional. We all hope 2021 will be brighter,” Louis Pierre Clement said.
The crew and contractors number approximately 70 and Clement credits the team for staying vigilant to keep Covid at bay. In this close-knit community, Clement shared, you’re quick to hear someone mention a friend or family member who was battling the virus. Others shared tales of loss.
As part of their awareness and education efforts, colleagues openly talked about why the efforts to wear masks, socially distance and stay vigilant remained so important. So far, it’s worked. While two contractors tested positive since the outbreak began, so far no Alcoan at Lake Charles has been diagnosed with Covid-19. And, their goal is to keep the plant virus-free.
“We’ve been lucky. Now we’re looking at how we can all stay even safer thanks to the vaccine,” Clement explained.
When the Louisiana Department of Health began coordinating the COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort across the state, more individuals and groups in Calcasieu Parish were offered the vaccination. A local occupational medical clinic teamed with several industrial facilities, including the Alcoa Lake Charles plant, to vaccinate eligible workers in the Lake Charles area. Alcoa Lake Charles team members knew it was important to vaccinate as many as they could.
First, they surveyed their workers to identify eligibility and willingness to receive the newly approved vaccine.
“At first, the results were alarmingly low,” explained Health & Safety Manager Jesse Guillory. “Before we could have an on-site clinic, we had to have at least 10 willing to receive the vaccination.”
Leaders – both salaried and hourly – created open dialogue and candid conversations to help address any concerns and share why this vaccine was an important shot in the arm.
With fact-based information and personal testimonials, undecideds changed their minds and indicated they would receive the shot. The clinic was able to vaccinate more than half of the Alcoa workforce and more are scheduled.
“People drove in on their off day to receive the vaccination. For us, we talked about how this is one of the best ways to protect ourselves, our family and our location,” Clement added.