Responding to vital needs among vulnerable communities during the pandemic, Wellstar is the first Georgia-based health system to become a national partner in new initiative
Wellstar Health System has joined Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN) of partners to further inform community-driven response, recovery, and resiliency strategies for addressing the impact of COVID-19 on communities.
In response to the needs of at-risk communities across the health system’s service areas, Wellstar has partnered with the MSM-NCRN and its 40 network partners across the U.S. to collaborate on offering COVID-19-related services to disproportionately impacted communities. As a not-for-profit system dedicated to providing “More than Healthcare. PeopleCare.” Wellstar is committed to addressing inequities that impact the health and well-being of people and communities through more than 450 community partnerships, Wellstar Community Health initiatives, and activities led by the Wellstar Center for Health Equity (WCHE).
One of the most critical barriers to health during the pandemic has been consumer access to reliable, science-based, culturally appropriate, and native language information resources, which the partnership will facilitate. Wellstar is the first Georgia-based health system to become a national partner in this important, new initiative.
“Wellstar is pleased to partner with Morehouse School of Medicine to provide vital information and resources for at-risk communities,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “The NCRN is a strong complement to the important work that our Wellstar Center for Health Equity is doing, and we are thankful for the collaboration.”
Morehouse School of Medicine’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network Builds Community Resiliency
The MSM-NCRN coordinates a strategic and structured national network of national, state/territorial/tribal and local public and community-based organizations that, together, will work to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority and rural populations. The network helps to provide awareness of culturally appropriate health education information and linkage to care, helping organizations and families recover from pandemic difficulties. In addition to educational and informational resources in at least 10 languages to accommodate cultural competency, initiatives will include COVID-19 testing, vaccinations following phases directed by DPH, training opportunities for community leaders.
“Our national network connects individuals, families, community organizations and clinical providers to timely and relevant COVID-19 information and services in their neighborhood,” says Dominic Mack, MD, MBA, professor of family medicine and director of the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network in the National Center for Primary Care at MSM.
“Morehouse School of Medicine’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network is designed to not only provide structure to the resources that are on the ground-level fighting this pandemic but is an important resource for our partners in serving the underserved and getting people the healthcare they need,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD., MSM president and dean. “Organizations such as Wellstar here in Georgia, its Wellstar Center for Health Equity, and the partnerships we cultivate, are critically important to the mission of health equity and in fighting and defeating COVID-19.”
Wellstar Center for Health Equity Addresses Health Inequities across Georgia
The WCHE addresses health inequities across Georgia to enhance the health and well-being of the people and communities served by Wellstar. Through partnerships such as the one with MSM-NCRN, the WCHE implements multi-disciplinary approaches to address deeply entrenched social disparities and healthcare gaps. Programs led by the WCHE over the past year include walk-up, pop-up COVID-19 family testing; distribution of masks and safety kits to at-risk communities; Congregational Health Network communications, collaboration, information, and support; Spanish-language educational information for Latinx communities; a technology-driven Community Transformation initiative for local non-profits; joint Webinars on health equity topics in collaboration with Partnership for Southern Equity, Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI), and Georgia Health Policy Center; and a series of “Mobile Market” free farmer’s market-style grocery shopping experiences for hundreds of families with Goodr.
The partnership between Wellstar and MSM-NCRN will extend the organizations’ reach and resources to enhance information access and drive positive impact.
The NCRN launch follows a $40 million award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to coordinate a strategic network focused on delivering COVID-19-related information to communities hardest hit by the pandemic. The launch of the NCRN occurs alongside the release of new digital technology accessible through the NCRN website. It provides location-based recommendations on where community members can get a COVID-19 test or receive a COVID-19 vaccine when distribution increases in the coming months.