How three major health organizations are tackling health disparities with Covid-19 vaccines

Many hospitals and health systems are leveraging their efforts to address racial inequities in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines as a stepping stone to addressing broader health care disparities, reports Ross Johnson for Modern healthcare. Here’s how three organizations—Permanent Kaiser, sinai chicagoand Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center— establish long-term community relationships.

How hospitals are forging non-traditional partnerships amid Covid-19 and beyond

Hospitals play ‘leading role’ in addressing vaccine disparities

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According to Modern healthcare, CDC data indicates that as of March 25, 66% of white people have received at least one dose of an authorized Covid-19 vaccine. In comparison, only 9% of Latin Americans, 8% of Black Americans, 5% of Asian Americans, less than 2% of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and only 0.6% of Hawaiians and Islanders of the Pacific received the same.

In response, several hospitals “have taken a leading role in trying to address this disparity”, Modern healthcare reports.

For example, Permanent Kaiser earlier this month, launched a nationwide vaccine education campaign aimed at building confidence in Black, Latino, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Additionally, the health system last week released a Covid-19 Vaccine Equity Toolkit to share approaches on how to distribute the vaccine more equitably among vulnerable communities.

Hospitals consider longer-term relationships

But, according to Modern healthcaremany health systems hope to leverage their vaccine-related outreach into longer-term relationships with these vulnerable communities that will address health care inequities in general and foster trust with the medical system.

For example, Stephanie Ledesma, acting vice president of community health programs for Kaiser, said the system’s efforts related to vaccines are part of a larger campaign to address racial equity in health. As part of this broader initiative, Kaiser recently pledged $5.4 million in grants to community groups to support efforts to combat discrimination and racism against Asian American populations – a commitment that will itself backs the system’s $8 million pledge in January to address structural racism, Modern healthcare reports.

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“Through these educational campaigns and connections with community organizations, we are able to build individuals’ trust in the system with the end goal of fostering health and well-being within our communities,” Ledesma said. .

Similarly, Dan Regan, spokesperson for sinai chicago, said his organization partnered with city officials in February to launch Protect Chicago Plus, a project that aims to distribute vaccines to 15 local neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic. And much like Kaiser, Sinai Chicago plans to leverage that outreach effort into broader community partnerships to address pandemic-related food and housing insecurity.

According to Regan, Sinai Chicago hopes the efforts will strengthen community bonds, which in turn will help reduce disparities in infant mortality and birth outcomes in the city. “We leverage all of our marketing resources, including advertising, social media, video content, email, [and] other digital and mobile strategies to position Sinai Chicago as a valuable resource and trusted provider for our communities,” said Regan.

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center takes a similar approach, according to Beth NeCamp, executive director of community and civic engagement at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Colleges of Health Sciences.

According to NeCamp, medical center staff members are educating ER patients about the Covid-19 vaccine and scheduling them for vaccination if possible. The medical center is also designing “solutions to address health disparities related and unrelated to the pandemic,” Modern healthcare reports, in a broader effort to use these community relationships to address the social determinants of health.

“Being a good partner is as important as being a community leader,” NeCamp said. “We want to be good at both” (Johnson, Modern healthcare3/29).

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