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Proposed Covid19 Strategy for our African American Community

Mike,

 

Thanks for all your efforts in combating Covid19. Giving the recent data on how African-American’s are disproportionately impacted by Covid19, sadly this news comes to no surprise to anyone of us working in this space. I ask we implement a more aggressive approach in preventing any further cases/deaths among this marginalized community in Travis County.

 

Here are few recommendations that I believe if we implemented can mitigate any new cases:

  1. Increase community awareness of the seriousness of Covid19 and importance of social distancing
  2. Directly contact our African American patients in the risk category especially those with underlying health conditions (HTN, DM, etc)
  3. Test those patients for Covid19 if symptomatic
  4. Those who test positive we must isolate, provide meal services for 14 days and daily check-in’s to monitor any new symptoms to see if hospitalization is needed
  5. Conduct contact tracing with all those in contact with the case and follow-up with them
  6. Individuals who were in contact who are symptomatic test for Covid19 and FU with item 4 &5
  7. Asymptomatic contacts request they self quarantine for 14 days and provide CH contact #’s if they become symptomatic in addition to any social services need (e.g meal services)
  8. Continue to actively monitor cases and conduct contact tracing for all patients

 

I understand this will take a lot of effort and coordination, but must be done to end the virus transmission.  From my understanding Central Health hasn’t been doing any contact tracing, and Austin Public Health is the one leading this effort and they’re understaffed. Focusing on testing alone isn’t enough to fight this pandemic and bending the curve. We need to be ahead of the outbreak and focus on preventative measures along with our coordinated responses with our partners.

 

In Liberia during the Ebola epidemic with less resources than us they were able eliminate the virus transmission to ZERO with this strategy. I am happy to help in any way, and ask for your support to get this work done in eliminating any health disparities among our African-American and Latino community. Addressing the health disparities and inequities will not be solved today or tomorrow but we must start now.

 

"The time is always right to do what is right.”-MLK

 

 

Thank you,

Maram

Mike:

I strongly concur with Manager Museitif recommendations. Reviewing national trends the African American(AA)population in Travis county will see these same negative outcomes from COVID19. I would encourage a strategy that would in partnership collaborate with the efforts APH has and continue in reaching the black population in our community. Given at least 70% of the AA in this county lives within the Eastern Crescent (EC)initiating efforts at opening a facility (school, community center or other type facility) to replace those we closed should be a priority. Allocation of resources to maintain this center during these critical times would be a necessity. Ensuring our outreach team is focused on working with those communities leaders that can get messages out about location and hours of operations is critical to success. Incorporating those elements Manager Museitif indicated are essential.

COVI19 has not identified a health disparity problem in the community we didn’t know about. For years this problem has been research, discussed, strategy developed and put in place with some limited success. What this virus has done is elevated the seriousness of the necessity of those effort by those agencies like Central Health to truly began to focus and targeted its operational ( capital, human and financial resources) in a more deliberate and culturally reflective way. Though these numbers are significantly impactful in the AA communities,  because of the interconenctive geography of black, brown and other marginalized communities,  I believe these efforts benefits all.

I would encourage your serious considerations of my colleague recommendations in coordination with APH efforts and the identification and opening of at least one perhaps two facilities (as outlined about) in the (EC) ASAP for testing and service resumption by no later than end of April or middle of May at the latest. Whenever the Austin-Travis County community resumes normalcy or whatever the new normal looks like these target/ focused efforts should be elevated and not just put back on the status quo! Opening the facilities  and increasing the operational efforts in the EC must be a priority of this board. If this crisis has show us anything it should have made it perfectly clear we must stay focused on those communities we have a state mandate to serve and we must do it with all deliberate speed. Failure to do so will impact not just disparate communities but our entire community and county.

 

Thanks.

Shannon

Sent from my iPhone

Thank you, Mr. Jones for your support.

I received a call from Chair Greenberg and she expressed her appreciation and support for my recommendation. She stated that Central Health is already working with Austin Public Health and many of my recommendations are already taking place. I asked for an update and we should be receiving one soon as we all would like to be up to date with our current activities. I look forward working with you and our fellow board members in filling the gaps and addressing the health needs for our most vulnerable community.

Stay safe,

Maram

In light of my recommendations several people reached out to me and I talked with few folks in the Eastern Crescent. The conversation went well and the board will receive an update.

I am committed in working with our community members, partners and stakeholders in addressing the inequities and health disparities. When I hear their concerns and learn from their experiences I can make more informative decisions. I completely empathize with our underserved communitiy and will do what it takes to address their concerns and needs.

Stay safe everyone!

Maram

Covid19 Community Call

April 10, 2020

 

Following my post of recommendations on the Central Health Online Message Board, a few community members from Eastern Travis County contacted me to discuss the ongoing pandemic and community response.

We discussed the following items that I wanted to share with you all.

Topics Discussed:

  • CommUnityCare (CUC) clinic closures
    • Community members are upset that clinics were closed without proper notification. I understand this subject was discussed during our most recent board meeting when CUC presented why it had to make that decision. However, my sense is that, if the community were informed in some other way before the closures, they would have felt less overlooked and supported the decision
    • The community asks that the focus of future communications be on Covid19 awareness, resources available to the community, and how residents can access care (Telehealth), not on closures
      • The most recent community conversation that took place on 4/8 focused on the closures and it trigged the community; they didn’t find it very helpful
  • Reopening at least one clinic in Northeast Travis County and one clinic in Southeast Travis County as soon as such clinics can be properly supplied with PPE for the protection of staff and the community
    • Community members conveyed that the NE and SE portions of Travis County have the highest needs, since the majority of people living there are uninsured
    • Community members acknowledged that no one controls Covid19 timeline, but wanted a commitment from Central Health to reopen the clinics and services in the near future
      • Is it possible to provide a timeline? Under the condition we are able to deliver as promise and not further frustrate and anger the residents of Eastern Travis County?
  • More testing for people of color and low-income communities
    • Early evidence suggests that African- Americans and people of color are disproportionality impacted by COVID19 and, for this reason, the community members requested that Central Health locate a testing site near their community
    • Community members also requested that Central Health allocate additional Covid19 testing kits to priority areas and coordinate with state/ local officials in obtaining additional kits to increase testing capacity
    • Finally, the community members I spoke with thought it is important to collect and publicly release racial and ethnic data on persons tested (both positive and negative), hospitalization, and care

***** I believe Central Health could disclose such information for statistical purposes if released in a manner that prevents the identification of any person

  • Additional educational resources and materials
    • Activating a County-wide texting campaign to provide educational information and reminders (e.g. washing hands) to the public in collaboration with Travis County
      • This is similar to what El Paso is currently doing in educating their community on Covid19
    • Host Facebook live event to answer any Covid19 questions/concerns/myths
      • Currently there is a significant need and lack of information that has led to unintended consequences (e.g. death threats)

*** I understand due to the Open Meetings Act this may not be feasible however, perhaps Central Health could host another virtual meeting ASAP

  • Develop more graphics with simple language educational materials to distribute to the public (mailer) and post on Central Health’s webpage that is easily accessible

***** Central Health Communication team has released some recent graphics on social media that is helpful perhaps mailing those might suffice and posting on the webpage if not currently available

  • Innovative approaches in serving our low-income communities
    • The community is open to and encouraging Central Health to explore innovative approaches in delivering services, but didn’t share with me what they meant by it
    • Utilizing telehealth is great but not everyone has access to a portal/phone/internet

 

Remarks and Action Items:

I encouraged an open channel of communication with Central Health and for community members to always reach out to our CEO and staff first. They expressed appreciation for our work and for staff members.

Personally, I am committed in working with our community members, partners and stakeholders in addressing the inequities and health disparities. When I hear their concerns, and learn from their experiences I can make more informative decisions. I completely empathize with our underserved communities and will do what it takes to address their concerns and needs.

My request from Central Health for the following items to be addressed:

  • We open at least one clinic in the Northeast and Southeast of Travis County as soon as we can, increase testing and facilitate a targeted intervention for communities of color who are at a higher risk of contracting Covid19 virus.
  • Increase transparency and communication in a timely matter to promote trust and confidence in our work in delivering health to those who need it most
  • Our underserved community lacks many resources and we must be mindful that not everyone has access to the internet and telehealth could be a barrier
  • In addition to these requests I ask that you consider my previous recommendations for a targeted public health intervention (e.g testing, contact tracing) for our African- American and Latino community

I understand these are unprecedented times in our history. We are going to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. Covid19 has changed people’s lives and every life is precious. It is time we step up and do what is right in addressing this urgent public health crisis. I am confident we will end this pandemic with our collaborative and compassionate efforts.

Thanks and stay safe!

Maram

 

Thank you Central Health for addressing several of my recommendations very swiftly. I am happy and pleased to report the re-opening of clinics in Eastern Travis County, CommUnityCare’s Hornsby Bend Health Center will re-open today 4/15. And the Del Valle Health Center will re-open the week of April 20. The other clinics will also follow suit soon.

You continue to demonstrate your commitment in delivering health/healthcare to our low-income communities. Looking forward to our Emergency Board Meeting tomorrow.

Thanks,

Maram