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WellSpan Health recognized for innovative health equity efforts in its COVID-19 response

March 31, 2022

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WellSpan Health Volunteer Norma Shue administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at the York County Community Vaccination Clinic in the spring of 2021.

WellSpan Health Volunteer Norma Shue administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at the York County Community Vaccination Clinic in the spring of 2021.

WellSpan Health has been recognized by The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), as part of its COVID Response Innovation Awards. WellSpan’s commitment to equitable access and innovative vaccination strategy with at-risk populations was selected by a panel of independent judges as one of the top 10 initiatives across the Commonwealth. This is the third year that WellSpan was recognized by HAP for quality and safety.

“WellSpan Health is committed to being a catalyst and leader in health equity, and our community health improvement plan, along with support from our board of directors, helps us chart a course that produces real results for our friends and neighbors in need,” said Ann Kunkel, vice president of community health and engagement. “Our teams lean in and engage with partners to advance the health of some of our neighbors who are at-risk for equitable access to care because we know that staying connected to the needs of our communities can lead to improved health outcomes.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, WellSpan Health leaders recognized the need to provide access to the vaccine for at-risk community members due to several barriers related to historical inequities, personal health, workplace requirements, access to child care, and other barriers related to social determinants of health.

WellSpan Health held listening sessions with community partners to determine the best ways to reach out to these individuals to ensure equitable access to the vaccine. These partners included Crispus Attucks, CASA, Juntos De Lebanon, and the Black Ministers Association, to name a few. From these community discussion groups, the organization learned about the opinions, thoughts, and barriers that form vaccine hesitancy.

“WellSpan was one of the first in the Commonwealth to bring mobile vaccines to homebound patients. We brought the vaccine directly to places like Trinity House and Brindle Estates in Franklin County and Delphia House and Stonybrook in York,” Kunkel said. “In fact, our protocols were shared across the Commonwealth because of our important work for our neighbors.”

WellSpan also utilized the opportunity to partner with trusted leaders in our communities to reduce the impact of the pandemic by sharing information and educating our neighbors. Tablets were distributed in homeless shelters, transitional housing, and personal care homes for online urgent care access. Team members also helped to coordinate quarantining COVID-19 positive community members in hotels when needed.

From February through June 2021, the number of at-risk community members scheduled for vaccine appointments and administration of the vaccine increased resulted in:

  • 22,595 total doses administered to at‐risk community members at WellSpan vaccine clinics, as well as mobile clinics.

  • 58 community partnerships to serve at‐risk community members across South Central Pennsylvania.

  • 94 mobile vaccine clinics across the region.

  • 2,576 doses administered to York City community members at the York City collaborative site hosted by Family First Health and supported by WellSpan and the York City Bureau of Health.

To learn more about WellSpan Health’s COVID-19 efforts, visit www.WellSpan.org/COVID19.