At the end of National Public Health Week, Allentown city employees and elected officials planned a surprise to honor Health Director Vicky Kistler.

"In a crisis where she had no playbook on how to do this, this was dumped on her lap, and she was the general in this war, and still is doing an amazing job," said city councilwoman Candida Affa.

Kistler has been the backbone of Allentown's COVID response, including launching the city's vaccine clinic, and helped a lot of people a lot of ways.

"I've seen her take money out of her own pocket, drive people there," said Leonard Lightner, Director of Community and Economic Development.

City employees signed a 5-foot custom made card and created a giant "Lifesaver" for Kistler and her staff.

"That's what they are. They are our live savers," Affa said.

Kistler's supervisor Lightner told her a white lie to get her to hang out after Friday afternoon's vaccine clinic at the fairgrounds.

"First, she's going to be mad at me because I lied to her," Lightner joked.

Kistler was told there was going to be a press conference to talk about the latest on COVID-19.

The press was there, but only to capture the sweet moment when Kistler walked into the room surprised, and was gifted the Key of the City by Mayor Ray O'Connell.

Kistler told all those in attendance how grateful and surprised she was for the kind gesture but said she couldn't take sole credit for the city's response. She graciously recognized other health bureau and city staff who she said dedicated countless hours in the response.

"I am overwhelmed by all of this, and I'm grateful for this, but I am more grateful for all of you," she said to those who celebrated with her.

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