By Aaron Wilson, CEO, CHAS Health
The COVID-19 pandemic tested all of us to innovate and grow in different ways. At CHAS Health that meant finding new ways to ensure access to healthcare services remained available to those most vulnerable in our community. It meant trying something different and then trying it again based on what we had learned and ever-changing guidance. It meant working together, staying the course, and remaining focused on our mission to serve our community.
Early in the pandemic, it became evident that COVID-19 testing was not available at the level needed for our community to fight the virus. CHAS Health made a commitment to provide testing access to everyone, with more than 62,000 tests administered to date. That meant staff working in parking lot tents and trailers, at homeless shelters, and at the homes of those too nervous to leave for testing.
The same access issues are true for COVID-19 vaccines. We again provided access, from large-scale vaccination locations to pop-up clinics for people who struggled to get access. To date, we have vaccinated more than 40,000 members of our community against COVID-19. We knew that these efforts were necessary and vital, that those most vulnerable for complications from COVID-19 were also those least likely to have ready access to testing and care. CHAS Health is committed to access and equity in healthcare for every member of our community. It is a cornerstone of who we are and has been since our founding in 1994. During the pandemic, the fact that access is a significant barrier for those most in need was visible on every level. Housing, technology, transportation, education, and language barriers directly impact people’s ability to care for themselves and their families. If there was any silver lining of COVID-19, it is increased awareness that these social determinants of health directly impact the health of our neighbors and community. We are all interconnected, and we have a responsibility to ensure that every member of our community has access to the resources they need to not just survive but thrive. It is vital to the overall health of our economy and of our region.
As we move to the “next normal,” CHAS Health will continue to focus on meeting those most in need where they are. Providing access, dignity, and equity for every person in our community and working toward the goal of a healthier community, one neighborhood at a time.