County honors Correctional Officer of the Year

Isanti County correctional officer Todd Rudquist (with plaque) received the statewide Correctional Officer of the Year award at the Oct. 2 meeting of the Isanti County Board. The designation is announced each year at the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Jail Administrator’s Conference. 

Each year, a Correctional Officer of the Year is designated during the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Jail Administrators Conference, and this year, Isanti County Correctional Officer Todd Rudquist received the award. 

He was recognized for his accomplishment at the Oct. 2 Isanti County Board meeting. 

Sgt. Jill Folkema, night shift supervisor at the Isanti County jail, nominated Rudquist, who has worked as a correctional officer for nine years.

In her nomination letter, Folkema wrote, “Comes to work every day with a positive attitude and maintains that attitude throughout each day no matter how hectic it gets or how many things go wrong. Todd always finds the good in every situation and will often poke fun at his coworkers for being negative. He never utters a negative word about anything.”

She praised Rudquist for always being to work early, always being happy at work and being a team player who jumps in to help without hesitation. He also takes on extra duties, she wrote, including maintaining the fleet of vehicles and assisting in maintaining and troubleshooting the jail’s technology. He helps in the community, volunteering at church. 

“When dealing with the worst inmates, Todd is always professional, but gets the job done using a firm but fair stance,” Folkema said. “He never crosses the line with his coworkers when he pokes fun at them, and always remembers where to draw the line. He is honest and courteous with everyone and always wants to do the right thing, even if it takes extra time.”

Health and safety coordinator

on Hepatitis A outbreak

Joan Schleicher, Isanti County Disease Prevention and Control nurse, addressed the board regarding the Hepatitis A outbreak currently taking place in the state. Hepatitis A cases began appearing in the state in May of this year, and an outbreak was declared by Minnesota Public Health Aug. 8. 

Although there are no cases in Isanti, there have been 23 cases in nine counties throughout the state, according to Schleicher. 

The national Hepatitis A outbreak began in 2016, and there have been more than 26,000 cases with a 60% hospitalization rate and 268 deaths, Schleicher noted. So far, 28 states have been involved, with two states declaring the outbreak over. 

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus which affects the liver, Schleicher said. It is transferred via the fecal/oral route, meaning hand washing is important. Although a Hepatitis A outbreak can sometimes be food-related, the current outbreak has been by person-to-person transmission. 

Risk factors for Minnesota outbreak are in line with national outbreak, and those at risk tend to be people who use injection/non-injection drugs, people who are experiencing homelessness or unstable housing, and people who are or were recently incarcerated.

As of Sept. 20, Isanti County has had no cases, according to a map on the MPH website, but it is in all surrounding counties. 

Because it takes a while for an outbreak to run its course, it is very likely every county in Minnesota will be affected, Schleicher said.

There is already a vaccine storage supply in Isanti County, and the county ordered 20 doses of adult vaccine right away, according to Schleicher. Another 60 doses were ordered after contacting the jail and learning they were interested in having inmates vaccinated. 

Thus far, 20 doses of the vaccine have been given in the jail, and the county has also connected with the New Pathways homeless shelter to offer vaccinations to any adults who are not vaccinated. Schleicher noted most children have been vaccinated through their series of vaccinations.

The Hepatitis A vaccine came out in 1996, and most children born after 2006 have been vaccinated, along with those who have been in the military since 1996. 

One dose of the vaccine is effective in preventing the disease during an outbreak. However, two doses are needed for lifetime immunity, according to Schleicher.

If someone is exposed to Hepatitis A and receives the vaccine or, depending on age, the immunoglobulin within two weeks, it can prevent getting the disease. 

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