Raising COVID-19 vaccination rates, one community at a time ► FINCHANNEL

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Kweku Hazel, MD, general surgeon and minimally invasive surgery researcher at the University of Colorado Hospital, and Cynthia Hazel, public health doctor and OMNI researcher, are used to involving communities of color and immigrant communities in the Aurora, Colorado metropolitan area. Their goal: to empower people to collaborate and tackle health inequalities to improve community well-being.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the couple – a married couple who together led grassroots community group The Gyedi Project – received numerous questions from members of their community about COVID-19. And, when the vaccine became available, people turned to them even more, as everyone struggled to sift through the misinformation that was circulating.

They decided to organize a clinic at Solid Rock Baptist Church in their Aurora community to educate and immunize community members. The original plan was to have 1 clinic and vaccinate around 50 people, but the demand was so high that they eventually administered over 1,000 vaccinations in 2 clinics, the first held in February 2021 and another in March. 2021. Approximately 80% of the people who came to their clinic identified themselves as being of color, black or indigenous, and the majority of those who heard about the clinic through their family and friends. friends. To meet ongoing vaccination requests and organize more clinics, the organization needed additional support.

The grant supports more than a thousand additional vaccinations

Thanks to a grant received from Colorado’s Together We Protect Fund, which is administered by the Caring for Colorado Foundation and financially supported by Kaiser Permanente, Project Gyedi was able to organize a third clinic in April 2021, administering 1,045 additional vaccinations in just over from 8 hours.

“With the funding, we were able to support and protect our various volunteers and provide them with the resources needed to serve the various people in our community who attended our clinics,” said Dr. Kweku Hazel.

In addition to vaccinating many people in the community, Project Gyedi has turned everyday members of the community into advocates for COVID-19 vaccination.

“One family had adult children who volunteered to help out at the clinic and got vaccinated because they became essential workers,” said Cynthia Hazel. “They took credible information, repackaged it, and convinced their parents and other family members, who are elderly and hesitant about the vaccine, to get the vaccine as well.”

In May, all adults nationwide were determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as eligible for vaccination, and many more vaccination sites were opened. As a result, the organization was able to put an end to its local events, administering 447 vaccines at its fourth clinic in May. The Gyedi project then returned to its core work of helping educate community members and focus on raising awareness among young people in their community who are black, indigenous or of color, while developing a referral system for help people get vaccinated at other sites. .

Additional grants for community health

Each quarter at Kaiser Permanente, we provide grants to organizations that work to improve the health of our communities. Our grant to Caring for Colorado has helped The Gyedi Project, which supports our work to ensure fair and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in communities most affected by the virus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted deep inequalities in healthcare for communities of color,” said Stephanie Ledesma, Acting Senior Vice President of Community Health Programs for Kaiser Permanente. “Grants to community organizations help us do work together that strengthens our shared commitment to equity and inclusion. “
In the second quarter of 2021, Kaiser Permanente awarded a total of $ 32.7 million in grants, with grants awarded to organizations working at:

Increase COVID-19 vaccination rates to remove barriers to inequitable access

Addressing the intergenerational trauma of racism

Strengthen the capacity of community organizations to provide personal and small business financial coaching tools to bridge the racial wealth gap

Grants to Community Organizations are part of the contributions that Kaiser Permanente makes each year to improve the health of the community. Kaiser Permanente also serves the community through a range of programs, including Medicaid, charitable health coverage, medical financial aid, and medical research. Learn more about our commitment to community health.



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