Among a group of 30 health centers in Oregon to receive aid from the federal government, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center received an award of $10 million from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan passed last month.
The money will be used for "expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, increasing CHC's ability to reach and serve at-risk populations, expanding health care workforce in order to ensure access to both COVID-19 services as well as primary care, making critically needed infrastructure updates and improvements and increasing community outreach and education activities," according to a release from the health center.
Over a year's time dealing with the pandemic, Virginia Garcia has focused on access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines for typically underserved communities, particularly the Latinx community. The health center formed a mobile COVID response team that allowed them to serve community members where they live, and also holds vaccination events twice a week at various locations throughout Yamhill and Washington counties.
The grant will go a long way in those efforts as the fight against the virus forges on.
"We're tremendously excited to receive this award to support our continuing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic through education, testing and vaccination activities," Virginia Garcia CEO Gil Muñoz said in a press release. "We look forward to our continued collaborations with public health and community-based organizations to provide equitable access to vaccinations for our communities of color and to those most vulnerable in our community.
"This support will ensure that Virginia Garcia meets its goal of vaccinating over 30,000 patients and community members in the next 12 weeks. That number represents 5% of our community and will go a long way toward ensuring there is a thoughtful and equitable plan for access to the vaccine, in particular the diverse communities we serve."
Virginia Garcia has administered in excess of 12,000 COVID-19 tests so far. The overall positivity rate of those tests was just over 16 percent and more than four times higher than the state average. Of the positive tests, 82.87% identify as Latinx, underscoring the disparities communities of color have faced during the pandemic.
For more information on the services provided by Virginia Garcia, including COVID testing and vaccine administration, visit virginiagarcia.org.
"Virginia Garcia is a trusted health care provider serving our community, including those most in need," Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said in the release. "This award of $10.2 million will help us defeat the pandemic, expand vaccinations in an equitable way, make COVID-19 testing and treatment more widely accessible and increase capacity during the pandemic and beyond. I'm thrilled to help deliver these needed federal resources to our community, and I applaud the team at Virginia Garcia for their steadfast leadership during these challenging times."
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