Reaching the Community, One Patient at a Time.
by Gabrielle O’Boyle Marketing and Public Relations Director, Healthcare Network
During the pandemic, Healthcare Network recognized early the need to provide culturally and language-appropriate information about COVID-19, particularly in remote, vulnerable communities.
To meet the needs, Healthcare Network established the COVID-19 Response Team, a community-based health care team in Immokalee. With support from local partners, the team went door-to-door to reach farmworkers, develop trust and break down barriers to care, creating a blueprint for other similarly underserved and marginalized communities.
From September 2020 through January 2022 the Response Team has had the following impact in Immokalee, home to many immigrant and migrant families.
- Number of COVID-19 tests administered: 14,660
- Number of farmworkers and/or family members contacted through home visits: 8,354
- Estimated number of PPE distributed to farmworkers including face masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizers: 23,014 packages
- Number of calls handled by COVID-19 team: 5,719
- Number of health center and social services referrals: 1,345
- Number of farmworkers and/or family members vaccinated: 4,259
- Number of food deliveries: 1,047
These efforts toward creating health equity will be recognized in May with the 2022 Outstanding Migrant Health Center Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers.
Through their work, the Healthcare Network team also recognized the need to continue to take care of the community beyond the pandemic. A three-year grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by Collier County’s Community and Human Services Division has allowed the COVID-19 Response Team to expand and become Healthcare Network’s Outreach Team.
The team will continue to provide COVID-19 support as needed, as well as address other conditions in the community such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
The grant allows Healthcare Network to hire six additional full-time community health workers with the goal of reaching the underserved in areas including:
- Everglades City/Chokoloskee
- Golden Gate Estates/Orange Tree/Oil Well Road
- East Naples (Lely)
- Naples Manor/Bayshore/Shadowlawn
- North Naples
The team will continue door-to-door visits and work with the Healthcare Network’s Chronic Care Management team and other professionals with referrals. In addition, the team will plan mini health fairs, health education events and workshops and continue to manage a resource line to answer questions from the community and provide information.
Home visits also allow the team to address some issues that impact health by connecting families with local resources for physical and mental health, transportation, food and housing assistance.
For 45 years, Healthcare network has distinguished itself by providing primary health care to men, women and children of all ages, helping the disenfranchised, underinsured and uninsured of our communities, as well as those with insurance and resources who recognize the quality and comprehensiveness of care available.
In addition to the outreach team, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® has been out in the community since 2004 to provide medical and dental care to at-risk children throughout Collier County.
The mobile Health & Smiles dental clinic has also provided a wide range of oral health services to all ages at 20 different sites from Immokalee to Everglades City. The mobile units and outreach team continue to help address barriers to care, such as lack of financial resources, transportation or time to travel to Healthcare Network’s physical facilities in Naples, Immokalee and the Nichols Community Health Center in GoldenGate.
You can help Healthcare Network address healthcare disparities and make Collier County healthier for all at HealthcareSWFL.org/Donate.
About the Author
Gabrielle O’Boyle is the marketing and public relations director for Healthcare Network, a nonprofit organization committed to ensuring quality healthcare is accessible to everyone in our community. Celebrating 45 years of care, Healthcare Network has locations throughout Collier County.
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