Mayor Scott, Health Commissioner Announce New Collaboration with Local Healthcare Partners to Provide Mobile Vaccination Clinics in Baltimore City
Monday Feb 8th, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, February 8, 2021) — Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa joined partners from MedStar Health, Lifebridge Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing to announce a mobile vaccination and outreach strategy targeting older adults in Baltimore City. This new strategy will feature mobile response teams that will go directly to independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes around Baltimore to provide vaccinations to older adults in eligible Priority Groups, for whom transportation or mobility issues may make a centralized mass vaccination location difficult to reach.
This new mobile outreach strategy follows the Maryland Department of Health’s guidance to prioritize senior buildings with the highest density of older residents age 65 and above. The prioritization criteria also includes going where there are recent COVID-19 outbreaks and to neighborhoods with low vaccination rates.
“It is critical that equity and our most vulnerable populations, like older adults, remain at the forefront of our vaccination strategy in Baltimore City,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This includes taking special care to ensure that older adults in our Black and Brown communities who are more susceptible to the virus and less likely to have access to internet and transportation can be vaccinated. I am extremely grateful to our partners at MedStar Health, Lifebridge Health, and Johns Hopkins for taking these extra steps to ensure a more equitable distribution of the vaccine in Baltimore.”
Mobile response teams will be deployed to congregate settings where individuals at high risk for COVID-19 live, such as senior housing, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, as well as homeless shelters and group homes for individuals with disabilities.
To ensure residents are aware of the vaccination clinics and to have the opportunity to engage with Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) staff and ask questions, Community Health Workers will visit the mobile vaccination sites beforehand to conduct outreach and help residents register for appointments up to one week in advance.
“Community Health Workers are trusted members of the community and have already established relationships with the coordinators of many of the housing sites we’ll be visiting,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. “This model of vaccine outreach, combining proactive education, pre-registration, and bringing vaccinations directly to the community, exemplifies the Health Department’s commitment to addressing vaccine hesitancy and reducing barriers to vaccine access.”
A scheduling form will be sent to independent living facilities to gauge interest in mobile clinics slated for the next two months. Scheduling will be confirmed weekly based on vaccine supply. In the coming weeks, BCHD will deploy a public dashboard highlighting mobile clinics around Baltimore.
The first mobile clinic took place on January 29 at Cherry Hill Senior Homes. BCHD and partners are working to rapidly scale up mobile efforts, with a goal of deploying up to 20 mobile teams at a time by mid summer.
“We’re honored and pleased to be assisting Baltimore City and its health department, along with other healthcare partners by providing comprehensive vaccination teams to support the city’s most vulnerable populations including our senior residents,” said Katie O’Conor, M.D., Operations Chief and Co-Chair of Vaccine Equity for the Unified Command at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to support our Baltimore City Health Department partners to equitably distribute their vaccine supply,” Dr. Michelle Patch, PhD, MSN, APRN, RN, Assistant Professor and Director, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Vaccine Volunteers Programs said. “We are committed to the health of our community and stand ready to respond to the areas of priority they identify.”
“At LifeBridge Health, our purpose statement is ‘Caring for Our Communities Together,’ and we are proud to join with the City of Baltimore and our fellow health partners in this initiative to bring COVID-19 vaccines into our communities. We are excited to be launching our new ‘Care Happens Here’ mobile units at this same time, as these new mobile resources allow us to bring more of our healthcare services, including vaccinations, directly to the residents we serve,” said Rebecca Altman, LifeBridge Health Vice President and Chief Integration Officer.
“We are proud to partner with the Baltimore City Health Department to ensure that our pandemic response meets people exactly where they are,” said Ryan Moran, Director of Community Health for MedStar Health. “We believe equity must be central to our response designed to remove barriers that stand in the way of people receiving the vaccine. Through this partnership, MedStar Health has activated an outreach strategy to reach our most at-risk, vulnerable older adults in Baltimore City. Taking our mobile center and clinical teams into the community is critical to the success of the effort.”
Mobile teams are bringing vaccination clinics to vulnerable individuals who qualify for and want a COVID-19 vaccine and have difficulty accessing them due to transportation issues or lack of internet access. The Federal Pharmacy Partnership has been vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities, but this initiative will provide direct outreach to those facilities to ensure that they are covered.