Some of the disparities in COVID-19 vaccination rates within some of the region’s hardest hit areas were not due to a lack of interest in getting the vaccine but more often due to disabilities, work schedules or lack of transportation.
Not to mention the difficulty for many residents in scheduling online vaccination appointments without fast, reliable internet service.
That’s when the team at Mercy Health sprang into action, taking a multi-pronged approach to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the residents.
While Mercy Health opened clinics at its locations throughout the city, a team led by Jen Jackson, CNO of Mercy Health – West Hospital, and Teresa Ash, West Hospital’s pharmacy director, began working directly with area organizations to host vaccination events in communities that were hit the hardest by COVID-19.
What followed were vaccination events set up in churches, area breweries, restaurants and more. In total, the team visited 48 locations and administered 28,244 vaccinations.
Key events and partnerships included collaboration with the College of Mount St. Joseph, which hosted three vaccine clinics averaging 715 vaccines administered per event; a partnership with the Bhutanese Community of Cincinnati at Forest Chapel United Methodist Church in Forest Park where 73 immigrants from Nepali received transportation and translation services in order to receive the vaccine; and an event cohosted with Catholic Charities at the Bond Hill Recreation Center where 78% of the 69 individuals vaccinated were minorities.
Expanding the Reach
The outreach, however, didn’t stop there. Lisa Sweeterman, director of Sports Medicine Partnerships and School Based Health Services and her team focused on another vulnerable group deeply impacted by the COVID shutdown – teachers and students – as the vaccine became available to students 12 and up. The team organized 20 vaccination events, administering 4,800 vaccines to teachers, staff, and eligible students in 19 area school districts and schools.
Mercy Health’s Mercy Serves AmeriCorps team, led by Lainie Kast, also mobilized quickly and rolled out weekly community-based vaccination events by developing crucial partnerships with organizations connected to specific populations and geographies. High-risk zip codes were targeted, and phone calls were made to schedule appointments at the nearest Mercy Health vaccination clinics or community-based pop-up clinics. Mercy Serves members provided 224 total manhours of service resulting in 4,580 total vaccinations administered at the 29 events they supported.
In total, Mercy Health’s vaccination efforts with its own associates, the community, schools, and organizations saw nearly 105,000 vaccines administered across Cincinnati.
The Health Collaborative is proud to honor Mercy Health as a nominee for the 2021 Gen-H Award. The team’s dedication to serving our communities and making sure access to the COVID-19 vaccine is available to all continues to positively impact our region as we continue to face the challenges of this deadly virus.