By Stephen Smoot
Last month, Pendleton Community Care received support for their efforts to expand COVID vaccination efforts in the region. They received $95,161 from the Health Resources and Services Administration office in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the nationwide Expanding COVID-19 Vaccination Initiative.
Jamie Hudson, chief executive officer of Pendleton Community Care, explained that the grant supported allowable practices to encourage people to get COVID 19 vaccinations. She explained that overall the grant supports efforts “to increase community awareness of how they can get vaccinations, letting them know where they can get them, and being able to provide them.”
Specific programs that the grant funding supports includes community vaccination events. Funding will also pay for outreach education to ensure that people have accurate and timely information about COVID, vaccinations, and awareness of events. Allowable expenses include supplies needed to support public vaccination events.
The mission of the program lies in ensuring access to the vaccine by individuals in underserved populations who choose to receive one. In addition to providing resources, the program “will strengthen coordination between healthcare providers and community-based organizations that provide childcare, early childhood development, housing, food, employment, education, older adult, and other health services,” according to a recent joint release by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin.
Hudson emphasized that the public need not wait for a vaccination event if they need one. She urged that “if they want a COVID vaccine they just need to call and we can coordinate that with them.”
In a release announcing the statewide grants, Capito stated “these grants give our state more resources to allow every West Virginian the access to address their healthcare needs.” She went on to say that “this money also provides more tools to healthcare providers to better help them address the health needs for people across our state.”
Manchin added “the funding announced today will help expand drive-up, walk-up, and community-based vaccination events.” He added that the program will “ensure everyone who wants a vaccine can get one, especially as flu cases and other respiratory diseases peak.”
West Virginia will receive $6 million of $350 million distributed nationally to Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHCs, across the nation.
Pendleton Community Care and other similar FQHC clinics across the United States “provide a set of comprehensive, high-quality primary care and preventative services regardless of patients’ ability to pay,” while collaborating “with other providers and programs to improve access to care and community resources,” according to the Rural Health Information Hub.