Free Mobile Covid-19 Testing Gets a Big Boost in Underserved Communities
When we look back on 2020, it won’t be with the warmest nostalgia, but there is still time to make the year a turning point for positive change. Bank of America is stepping up to do its part across the country in a big way, donating $1 billion over four years to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. This support is transformational for local community organizations, including the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center based in Hillsboro.
Since 1975, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center has been keeping people healthy in Washington and Yamhill counties, growing from a grassroots, volunteer-run clinic into a full-service health provider that employs more than 600 people across 17 clinics. They provide high-quality, comprehensive medical, dental, pharmaceutical, and mental health services to more than 52,000 patients every year. Of those patients, about 98 percent have low incomes, 22 percent are uninsured, 40 percent are children, 54 percent are Hispanic/Latino, and nearly half are immigrants or refugees. In these unprecedented times, Virginia Garcia serves the segment of Oregon’s population at the greatest risk for contracting Covid-19.
“We must all work together as one global community to address not only the current health care crisis, but also the underlying economic and social disparities that have accelerated and intensified during the pandemic,” said Roger Hinshaw, Oregon and Southwest Washington market president for Bank of America. “Our partnership with Virginia Garcia, a trusted member of the community, tackles these two important issues. They are providing critical health care access that can slow the spread of the virus, while also targeting underserved groups who find themselves disproportionately at risk physically and economically.”
For the last seven months, Virginia Garcia has remained open to help patients during the pandemic, offering screening checks, telehealth appointments, in-person care, curbside pharmacy pickup, and other medical assistance. The main challenge, however, has been providing high-quality and comprehensive medical services to people who face barriers to receiving health care, such as migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
To bolster outreach efforts, Bank of America has provided Virginia Garcia with a $100,000 grant and 10,000 medical masks, enabling them to scale up their mobile testing capabilities while keeping patients and providers safe. Testing will be available at their clinics Monday through Friday with special, free community events taking place on Tuesdays each week around Washington and Yamhill counties. To date, Virginia Garcia has screened more than 5,400 individuals since testing began in March.
The partnership with Bank of America will also improve the distribution of language- and culture-specific information regarding coronavirus, including education on symptoms, advice for reducing the spread of the disease, and options for treatment.
"Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center was born from adversity, and we are rising to this occasion much like we did in 1975. We are providing critical health care in the midst of this crisis, innovating in our response by expanding testing availability through the use of our mobile clinic, and standing on the front line as essential workers," said Serena Cruz, Executive Director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation. "We are able to respond to community needs during this unprecedented time thanks in part to the generosity and support of organizations like Bank of America."
Through its Covid-19 Response Team (CoRe), Virginia Garcia continues to emphasize community outreach, partnering with other organizations that host its mobile clinic to arrange additional free testing, as well as influenza vaccinations, where people live and gather.
This relationship is only one facet of the bank’s commitment to responsible growth, which seeks to strengthen medical response capacity, address food insecurity, enhance access to learning as a result of school closures, and provide support to the world’s most vulnerable populations—right now, and in the months ahead. Bank of America strongly supports numerous local, national, and global organizations that are on the front lines of tackling some of society’s most pressing issues. So far this year, the bank has already provided $1.8 million in funding across Oregon and Southwest Washington in response to the coronavirus.
To learn more about Virginia Garcia and support their outreach, visit virginiagarcia.org/who-we-are.