COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Rapidly Increasing at CHCs

With the pace of COVID-19 vaccine administration rapidly increasing at community health centers, our latest data note updates previous findings on the impact of COVID-19 on community health centers for the week of March 5, 2021 and reports updated data trends for the eleven-month period from April 3, 2020 through March 5, 2021.

Community health centers have tested more than nine million patients for COVID-19 virus over eleven months. In the aggregate, a total of 1,147,905 health center patients have tested positive for the virus, accounting for four percent or 1 in 25 of all recorded U.S. cases. In line with disparities in COVID-19 infection rates, patients reported as racial and ethnic minorities, particularly Hispanic/Latino patients, accounted disproportionately for CHC patients who have tested positive, both this week and consistently over the eleven months of survey data.

Vaccine information has been captured since January 8, 2021, and for the nine-week period beginning on that date and ending March 5th, nearly 158,000 staff members, or 62 percent of all community health center FTEs, had completed their COVID-19 vaccine series, while 806,024 health center patients, or 3.7 percent of those eligible, had been fully vaccinated. The increasing pace of vaccines evident over the nine-week period reflects both the increased vaccine supply generally, the direct allocation of vaccine supplies to selected community health centers, and expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations based on age or health conditions. While vaccine supply has increased, nearly half (45 percent) of responding health centers nonetheless reported that vaccine deployment was challenged by supply constraints this current reporting period.

Health centers have risen to meet the challenges of the pandemic, with expansive testing and new vaccine capacity. Still, while operational capacity has improved in recent months, the pandemic has taken an enormous financial toll on health centers, resulting in an estimated $4.95 billion in cumulative patient revenue losses, or 15.8 percent of national 2019 health center revenue. Steep revenue losses, the high proportion of low-income and racial/ethnic minority health center patients at greater risk for infection, and the known widespread racial/ethnic and income disparities in the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 all underscore the rationale for the Administration’s health center investments. They demonstrate the continued need for the expansion of health center testing resources and full participation of health centers in vaccine distribution.

The data note was produced by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative.

Read the data note, “Key Updates from the Health Center COVID-19 Survey (Week #49): The Pace of COVID-19 Vaccine Administration is Rapidly Increasing at Community Health Centers”


Save the Date: Policy Webinar
We hope you can join us for our free, live webinar program, titled, The Role of Community Health Centers as Public Health Emergency First Responders: One Year into the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Date: Tuesday April 27, 2021
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EDT
To Register: Link coming soon!

The nation’s community health centers have long played a crucial role as public health first responders, but never have they been asked to serve on such a large scale. One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, this webinar will address how the COVID-19 emergency has affected community health centers and explore the crucial role played by health centers in achieving the goal of health equity in emergency response – a role so central, that the Biden administration immediately identified community health centers as essential to its sweeping American Rescue Plan (ARP). Presenters will discuss what the data tell us about the impact of the pandemic on community health center operations, staffing and finances, and the indispensable role of community health centers in the hardest-hit and most at-risk communities in providing COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccinations. Presenters also will discuss the ARP’s investment in both people and the health care safety net, along with the implications for health centers as full-scale implementation moves forward.

This webcast will feature policy experts Sara Rosenbaum, Peter Shin and Jessica Sharac from the Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health Policy, Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

CE credit is available. Note that the webinar, which is free of charge, will be recorded and archived so that you may listen to it at a later date if you are unable to participate.

As always, our objective is to advance the dialogue on the critical importance of community health centers in a changing healthcare landscape, and to support CHC-related research and programming. We anticipate having ample time for discussion and look forward to your comments, questions and observations. We hope that you will find this presentation enlightening and useful, and look forward to your participation and comments.


COVID-19 Support
In addition to our program-specific grantmaking, RCHN CHF continues to partner in COVID-19 relief efforts targeted at aiding health centers and the communities they serve. Our recent gifts include support for the Hispanic Federation’s program to support vaccination efforts at Latino-led community health centers across the United States through the COVID-19 VIDA (Vaccination Immunization Dosage Awareness) Initiative. Our gift will help the Hispanic Federation extend the COVID-19 VIDA Initiative to additional health centers serving vulnerable at-risk communities across the country.

Mourning Victims of The Atlanta Shooting
Last week’s fatal shootings in Atlanta killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. Fuelled by pervasive and systemic racism, attacks on Asian-Americans are on the rise nationwide. We stand united with our colleagues and friends in remembering and mourning the murder victims, and in forcefully condemning bigotry and violence targeting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and other communities of color. Racism in any form and against any community is a public health issue. Gender violence is a public health issue. These threats demand our full attention, condemnation, solidarity and commitment to change. Read AAPCHO’s statement here. View the statement from Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta & Georgia NAACP and pledge to fight racism and #StopAsianHate.

CHroniCles Feature Albums: Women’s History Month
The community health center movement was built, in large part, by women who organized and advocated for accessible, affordable health care, serving as board members, executive directors and staff to bring high-quality services to their neighbors. We have scores of women to thank for the incredible successes of our nation’s health centers, and recognize just a few here for Women’s History Month.

Follow our Facebook page to view more feature albums.
Visit CHroniCles to tell your community health center story.

Sun River Health (New York) was founded more than 45 years ago when a group of four women – the “Founding Mothers” Mary Woods, Willie Mae Jackson, Pearl Woods, and Reverend Jeannette Phillips – worked with community members and religious leaders to address the need for affordable health care in Peekskill, one of the poorest cities in N.Y.’s Hudson River region. Originally known as Peekskill Area Ambulatory Health Center, and then as Hudson River Health Care, Sun River Health now serves the Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island.

Ms. Betty Jean Kerr RN, BSN, PNP, MA joined the People’s Health Center (Missouri) as CEO in 1977 and turned the volunteer-led storefront free clinic into a comprehensive network. Upon her retirement after more than 30 years of service, the health center was renamed the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Center (PHC) in her honor. PHC’s health care sites are part of an integrated network of community-based supportive services, which include community services, community development, specialty care and affordable housing.

Ms. Doris Ison, an immigrant and former farmworker, was driven to provide care to the area’s local Black residents, who were not welcome at the area’s hospitals. She compelled doctors and legislators to create a health care center in South Miami Dade, Florida The health center, which began 1971 in two meager trailers, is now Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) Today CHI operates 11 health center sites, two urgent care walk-in locations, four pharmacies and 35 school-based health centers, a mobile dental trailer and mobile medical van, serving patients from more than 30 different cultures.

Lillian Reba Moses was honored as a Board Member Emeritus of Community Health Center, Inc. (Connecticut). Along with student activist Mark Masselli and local pharmacist and business owner Gerry Weitzman, Moses founded CHC, Inc. in 1972, The daughter of a sharecropper, Moses brought to the health center her long experience in fighting for social justice. Today CHC, Inc. is the largest health center in the state, an innovative leader and a voice and vehicle for social change, dedicated to providing services that best meet the needs of its communities and patients.

Dr. L.C. Dorsey is pictured here with Dr. H. Jack Geiger at the 2013 groundbreaking for the new site of the Delta Health Center (Mound Bayou, MS), the first rural health center in America. A civil rights activist and community organizer, Dr. Dorsey helped to start and run the Farm Co-Op, Head Start, and other community programs that were instrumental to the success of what was then known as the Tufts-Delta Health Center, and later served as the health center’s project director. After completing her GED, Dorsey, the child of sharecroppers, went on to earn both a master’s degree and doctorate in social work, and a Certificate in Health Systems Management. She left a remarkable legacy as an educator, author and activist committed to human rights and health care justice.
Photo Credit: Tom Ward