Recognizing the importance of the COVID-19 Response Team in reaching the community with critical healthcare information and care, Healthcare Network has expanded the size and work of team to form the Healthcare Network Community Outreach Team.
“During the pandemic, Healthcare Network recognized early the need to build trust by providing culturally and language-appropriate information about COVID-19, particularly in remote, vulnerable communities,” said Julie Pedretti, vice president of external affairs, who was originally hired to organize the five-member response team. “When we saw success of the door-to-door efforts during the pandemic, we knew we could continue to make a significant impact in preventative healthcare beyond our walls in the remote corners of our community.”
A three-year grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by Collier County’s Community and Human Services Division has allowed the COVID-19 Response Team to expand to 15 team members. The team will continue to provide COVID-19 support as needed, as well as address other conditions in the community such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
The grant allows Healthcare Network to hire six additional full-time community health workers with the goal of reaching the underserved in areas including:
Golden Gate Estates/Orange Tree/Oil Well Road
Naples Manor Bayshore/Shadowlawn
The COVID-19 Response Team was formed in 2020 to expand programs to include increased testing and eventually vaccines, education and community outreach.
The goal was to dispel rumors and provide and build confidence in vaccination and testing, particularly in vulnerable communities where language and cultural barriers as well as a historical distrust in healthcare exist.
Community health workers (promotoras) provided door-to-door outreach with culturally appropriate educational materials and messaging in Immokalee. In late 2020, the team canvassed 601 homes in 16 days, reaching about 1,500 people. From Jan. 1-Oct.20, 2021, the multilingual promotoras visited 4,932 homes, providing education and support.
As of Oct. 18, 2021, efforts of the COVID-19 Response Team and collaborations have made it possible for Healthcare Network to: