Buffalo Business First has named Neighborhood Health Center a 2022 IDEA (Inclusion Diversity Equity Awareness) Award winner!
Neighborhood was recognized for its efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. By focusing on the importance of COVID testing, vaccination, and education, Neighborhood developed approaches to address each of these key areas in an effort to catalyze community impact with a particular focus on disparities related to race and ethnicity.
Studying positivity rates by race and ethnicity, and then vaccination rates and vaccine hesitancy by race and ethnicity is of critical importance, because disease burden is not spread equally across communities. Communities of color in Western New York experience excess disease burden, including conditions identified as comorbidities for severe COVID-19 disease, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control identifies racial and ethnic minorities as at risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms due to historical, systemic health and social inequities. These inequities have left members of racial and ethnic minority groups at risk of developing more comorbidities and at younger ages, leading to higher rates of severe disease and death from COVID-19 in younger populations.
As a Federally-Qualified Health Center, Neighborhood uses needs-data to develop community-oriented, strategic operations that are responsive to the evolving needs of socially complex communities.
One example of a data-driven approach that Neighborhood is using is in its COVID testing plan and procedures. As part of its weekly COVID huddle, Neighborhood leadership team members study COVID testing and vaccination rates by race/ethnicity for both Neighborhood Health Center patients and Erie County. That data informs Neighborhood’s weekly adjustments in testing hours and workflows at each of Neighborhood’s testing locations based on the populations served at each location.
Data-informed, responsive testing and vaccination initiatives have helped Neighborhood bring and maintain COVID testing and vaccination to people where they are, and reach into some of the most medically underserved and vulnerable communities to bridge health inequity and save lives.
“We want to thank in particular Kelly Suzan, Franklin Smith, Amanda Stanek, and Zuley Martinez-Batiz for all of their effort in our COVID response, as well as our entire team,” says Joanne Haefner, CEO of Neighborhood Health Center. “Congratulations, everyone!”