Operation vaccination: Legacy invests in pop-up clinics

May 2021 Posted in Business, Community, Your Health

By Brenna Wiegand

Pop-up vaccine clinics Legacy Health at Coleman Farms

Pop-up vaccine clinics Legacy Health at Coleman Farms. Brenna Wiegand

When the COVID-19 vaccine first became available in late December, Legacy Silverton Medical Center opened a clinic and started providing vaccines, first to primary care providers, then teachers. By January’s end about 5,000 people had been vaccinated at the Silverton campus.

Not long after the vaccine became available to the general public, it became clear that some key populations in Woodburn were being underserved.

“The number of people exposed to COVID in the first six months of the pandemic was higher in Woodburn than any other municipality in the entire state of Oregon,” Jonathan Avery, President of the Willamette Region for Legacy Health, said. “We decided in early February to open a vaccination clinic at the Woodburn Health Center and really focus on providing good access to folks in north Marion County and Woodburn especially.”

The clinic at Woodburn Health Center runs three days a week and has now provided more than 12,000 vaccines. However, large numbers of folks are staying away, mostly due to transportation and educational barriers.

As of early May, data reveals only 34.4% of eligible Marion County residents are fully vaccinated with another 13% in progress.

“That’s less than 50% of the eligible population, telling us that there is a real need to reach out and go to folks where they are,” Avery said. “To aid in that effort, we set up what we’re referring to as mobile pop-up clinics.”

A Legacy vaccination team began visiting Woodburn-area farms, production facilities and warehouses to provide on-site vaccines for employees and their families and friends, administering 50-100 vaccines per stop.

They rolled out a dozen such pop-up clinics the first three weeks and, with stepped-up measures to break down barriers, hoping to provide 30 to 40 more clinics in the coming months.

“We have been partnering with community nonprofit organizations that have been taking point on providing education about the safety of the vaccine and where to get vaccinated,” Avery said. “These are organizations like PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste; Oregon’s Farmworkers union) and the Farmworker Housing Development Corporation that already have trusted relationships with the farm community and the Latinx community.”

“They have been doing outreach, in some cases going door to door in farmworker housing communities, to provide information about the safety of the vaccine and the logistics of upcoming mobile clinics,” Avery said. “That has really helped lay the groundwork for trust and coming to these clinics. Many folks have gone out of their way to thank us for making it easy for them and their families to get access to the vaccine.”

Legacy Health is part of the Marion and Polk County Mobile Vaccine Committee, a weighty collaboration of Marion County Public Health, Salem Health, Santiam Health and several nonprofit community- based organizations.

“We are one of many providers that have basically linked arms to do this together so that we’re not duplicating effort
and are able to get to as many of these vulnerable populations as possible,” Avery said. “Access to the vaccine is no longer the problem; the bigger issue is making sure that folks have the right education and know where to go for their vaccines.”

Employers lay the groundwork, getting word out to their employees ahead of time. Teams include Spanish-speaking clinicians to guide patients through the process and provide education for these more vulnerable groups in the hope that they will take the message back into their own communities.

In collaboration with Oregon Health Authority and the City of Woodburn, Legacy started giving out T-shirts to those who come through the Woodburn Health Center clinic which increases the visibility of the vaccine’s importance to others. City of Woodburn started a free taxi service to the clinic in Woodburn.

“Local businesses have been just fantastic in their acknowledgment that this is the best way to take down barriers for their employees and their partnership makes

it easy for us to run these clinics,” Avery said. “It’s ‘all hands on deck’ trying to get out the education and make sure people feel safe in getting the vaccine and that they have access to it.”

Marion County Public Health’s website lists all the vaccination sites with information in multiple languages.

“The only way to put this pandemic behind us is through vaccination,” Avery said. “That’s the most critical ingredient to our success and moving back to life
as normal.”

To help get the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved populations in Marion County, Legacy Health distributed
a $665,000 charitable donation between eight community-based organizations:

Catholic Community Services – St. Joseph Shelter

Family Building Blocks

Farmworkers Housing Development Corporation

Liberty House

Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action

Options Counseling

PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste)

Silverton Area Community Aid

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