The health care safety net has always been on the front lines of serving our most vulnerable communities, including a disproportionate number of low-income people of color. When the COVID-19 pandemic ignited in California last year, the community clinics, public hospitals, and health systems that comprise the safety net played an even more critical role.
Kaiser Permanente prioritized grants to the health care safety net and to homeless service providers to increase access to health care and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities disproportionally suffered the effects of the pandemic, with higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths than other communities.
Salud Para La Gente, or Health for the People, has a long history serving Latinx farmworkers and their families. It’s 1 of 6 organizations in Santa Cruz County that received a total of more than $1 million in grants from Kaiser Permanente in 2020 to support health care access for underserved people.
The grant to Salud Para La Gente helped it open 2 large outdoor drive-through clinics offering COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, intravenous infusions of monoclonal antibodies for treatment of the virus, and preventive care.
We’re a hard-hit community with underserved patients, so having support for the work we do is important and impactful.” – Amy McEntee, DO, chief medical officer for the clinic
Acknowledging the sobering health challenges facing people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, Kaiser Permanente also awarded $2 million in grants to homeless service providers in Northern California.
Roots Community Health Center in East Oakland, 1 of 14 organizations that received a grant, used its funding to expand its Street Team Outreach Medical Program. The team’s services include COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, connections to isolation and quarantine accommodations, and hygiene and food supplies.
“One of our big priorities is to keep people alive until they get housing,” said Danielle Williams, MD, who is part of the outreach team.
In 2020, Kaiser Permanente also supported the health care safety net with these additional grants: