Six-figure grant a boost to Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
A massive grant is set to make an immediate impact on the COVID-19 response at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center. The center, which has locations in Newberg and throughout the Portland metro area, received $100,000 from Bank of America in a grant announced Oct. 2 by the bank.
The grant came with an additional donation of 10,000 medical masks, which a release from Bank of America said will scale up the health center's COVID-19 response. The money will largely go toward increasing the provider's mobile COVID-19 testing capabilities.
"The mobile COVID-19 testing is especially important for reaching disadvantaged communities that have barriers preventing them from visiting traditional locations for testing," a release from Bank of America said. "Since March, Virginia Garcia has screened more than 5,400 individuals for COVID-19. The grant is part of Bank of America's commitment to donate $1 billion over four years to advance racial equality and economic opportunity."
Virginia Garcia was founded in 1975 and serves both Washington and Yamhill counties, with one of its primary locations in Newberg. The clinic started as a volunteer-run health provider and now employs more than 600 people at 17 locations in the metro area.
"Virginia Garcia provides high-quality, comprehensive medical, dental, pharmaceutical and mental health services to more than 52,000 patients every year," the release said. "Of those patients, about 98 percent have low incomes, 22 percent are uninsured, 40 percent are children, 54 percent are Hispanic/Latino and nearly half are immigrants or refugees. Virginia Garcia is notably serving Oregon's population at greatest risk for contracting COVID-19."
The Latinx population is at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 in Oregon, largely due to economic conditions and access to health care. The grant money will support additional testing through Virginia Garcia, which is available Monday through Friday at its clinics with special events taking place in Washington and Yamhill counties on Tuesdays.
Bank of America executives underscored the importance of this donation to the community and to the company's effort to give back philanthropically.
"We must all work together as one global community to address not only the current health care crisis, but also the underlying economic and social disparities that have accelerated and intensified during the pandemic," Roger Hinshaw, Oregon and Southwest Washington market president for Bank of America, said in the release. "Our partnership with Virginia Garcia, a trusted member of the community, tackles these two important issues. They are providing critical health care access that can slow the spread of the virus, while also targeting underserved groups who find themselves disproportionately at risk physically and economically."
Some of the grant money will also go toward the distribution of language- and culture-specific materials regarding COVID-19 and how to access testing. Community outreach is key for institutions like Virginia Garcia to slow the spread of the disease in all communities, but particularly the Latinx community and other underserved groups.
"Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center was born from adversity and we are rising to this occasion much like we did in 1975," Serena Cruz, executive director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, said in the release. "We are providing critical health care in the midst of this crisis, innovating in our response by expanding testing availability through the use of our mobile clinic and standing on the front line as essential workers. We are able to respond to community needs during this unprecedented time, thanks in part to the generosity and support of organizations like Bank of America."
For more information on Virginia Garcia or to sign up for COVID-19 testing, learn more about the virus or obtain any other pertinent information, visit the health center's website at virginiagarcia.org.
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