FORT WORTH, Texas — Nearly 20 Texas Health Resources healthcare workers and support employees arrived at a southeast Fort Worth community center Friday morning, the beginning of the system’s targeted effort to get vaccines to neighborhoods hit hard by COVID-19.
A Texas Health nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine at the southeast Fort Worth clinic.
“So many of our people are getting COVID,” said Anisia Aguilar, who was excited as she received her shot at Southeast Community Health Center. A total of 125 residents in the medically underserved area had appointments. All fell into the Phase 1B category for the vaccine: individuals 65 years of age and older or those with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Aguilar, who has an underlying condition that made her eligible, added, “This is good for us. I’m protecting myself, protecting my family and protecting others.”
Catherine Oliveros, Dr.Ph., Texas Health’s vice president of Community Health Improvement, who helped organize today’s vaccinations, said, “The data shows that Latinos have been hit harder by this disease than other populations. They have higher rates of infections along with more severe morbidity and higher mortality. We’ve seen this pattern across the region, state and country. This is why we’re here.”
Susan Willis, corporate compliance officer for North Texas Area Community Health Centers, said more than 75 percent of the clinic’s patients lack insurance and earn incomes that fall below the national poverty level. She said 80 percent prefer their medical visits to be conducted in Spanish.
“We are committed to getting the COVID-19 vaccine to the communities we serve and this collaboration with North Texas Area Community Health Centers is key to targeting underserved areas,” said Winjie Miao, the system’s senior executive vice president and chief experience officer. “This effort augments our three other fixed-site vaccine hubs that have already reached over 9,000 residents across North Texas. Our efforts to fight the pandemic extend far beyond our hospital walls.”
Patricia Rodriguez, M.D., chief medical officer for NTACHC, said, “This is a phenomenal opportunity. We are so grateful to partner with Texas Health Resources.”
She added, “North Texas Area Community Health Centers is a very important and vital key player to provide healthcare to people that are in underserved communities.”
Oliveros said today’s effort is but a beginning.
“Future plans include working with six more community-based organizations and programs in historically underserved areas of North Texas that have access issues and other barriers to getting vaccines,” Oliveros said.
She said fear and questions about the vaccine remain in various communities.
“We’re working with organizations that the people in these communities know and trust,” Oliveros said.
“Every person that we vaccinate becomes an ambassador in that neighborhood for their friends and families.”
The collaboration with the Centers is part of Texas Health’s multipronged approach to delivering vaccines in communities, serving as a hub for Tarrant County and providing vaccines to individuals who register with Tarrant County Public Health. Texas Health Physicians Group is also providing vaccines to high-risk patients, and our hospitals continue to vaccinate our employees, medical staff, and other healthcare workers.
About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 27 hospital locations under the banners of Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley. Texas Health access points and services, ranging from acute care hospitals and trauma centers to outpatient facilities and home health and preventive services, provide the full continuum of care for all stages of life. The system has more than 4,000 licensed hospital beds, 6,200 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 23,000 employees. For more information about Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.