Across this country, the pandemic has exposed deep seated divides within our communities. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that Black and Latinx populations who contract this disease, are dying at twice the rate of other populations.
Nowhere is this fact more deeply felt than in Los Angeles where those living in poorer communities in South Los Angeles struggle daily with access to medical care amid the worst Pandemic in more than 100 years. This population is more likely to utilize public transportation, to struggle with limited access to mental health services, to have difficulties related to language and insecurity due to the lack of immigration documentation, and lastly, they usually lack medical insurance. This population also suffers from higher rates hypertension diabetes, and obesity.
The point is that racial and ethnic, economic, lack of equitable access to healthcare and public health, and a whole raft of issues related to disparities have conspired to result in health outcomes that are different. While it is easy to unmask this effect related to vaccination rates, the same forces play out throughout the entire health care system. As the nation approached 500,000 deaths and mortality numbers were exceeding 3000 deaths per day, the community in South Los Angeles had to do something to ensure no one was left behind. At a time when many had lost hope, Kedren Community Health Center decided something had to be done to change this dynamic. We needed action at the local level where people live and work with the full participation and empowerment of the population. I call this the “Kedren Miracle” where a disenfranchised community pulled together under Kedren Community Health Center to build one of the most effective vaccination units in this Pandemic which continues to this day to serve as a model throughout the USA.
Over the last several months, we have been able to transform Kedren into a COVID-19 vaccination center serving the people of South Los Angeles. We have worked with the Los Angeles County of Public Health and received tremendous support from California Governor Newsom’s Administration, including the CalVolunteers program, which has provided dozens of volunteers to help staff the clinic. We have also received support from the Americorps, American Red Cross, International Medical Corps, Salvation Army, Americares, among other official channels for volunteerism and service—hundreds of servicemembers help us serve over 15,000 members of the community every week—over 52,000 individuals have been vaccinated at Kedren thus far.
Kedren Community Health Center is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that provides quality, integrated health and behavioral health services to children, youth, adults and families irrespective of immigration status, residency, language, culture, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or one’s ability to pay. Annually, KCHC provides care for more than 100,000 patients. Kedren Community Health Center is a trusted care provider in South Los Angeles and has worked to exemplify some of the best practices for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine and breaking down barriers to accessing the COVID-19 vaccine for vulnerable individuals in South Los Angeles.
Kendren Community Health Center has a robust framework for distributing COVID-19 vaccine effectively and efficiently to vulnerable populations, the aged and the disabled. It is a model built on trust at the most local level of the health system. A Family Physician’s tenacity and determination, will and grit, passion and unyielding spirit, along with vaccines, hands to administer them, and resources is all it takes to equitable rollout vaccines across Los Angeles County.
Jerry P Abraham, MD MPH CMQ
Director, Kedren Vaccines