More than 1,200 people from impacted community receive first dose
St. Francis Medical Center hosted a community COVID-19 vaccine clinic on March 29 and provided 1,293 eligible Lynwood community members with their first COVID-19 vaccination. The clinic, one of the largest in the area, was a unique partnership between St. Francis Medical Center, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office, the City of Lynwood, and Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative to promote health equity and serve the Lynwood community, which is one of the most impacted communities in California.
The event included a press conference to highlight the shared commitment of the partnership to ensuring vaccine equity across Southeast Los Angeles communities. Speakers included Dan Jones, CEO, St. Francis Medical Center; Kavitha Bhatia, MD, Prime Healthcare Foundation President & Chair and Prime Healthcare Chief Medical Officer, Strategy; Marisela Santana, Mayor, City of Lynwood; Oscar Flores and Jose Luis Solache, Council Members, City of Lynwood; Adrian Landa, Field Representative, Office of California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, 63rd Assembly District; Dr. Wilma Franco, Ed.D., Executive Director, SELA Collaborative; Battalion Chief Stan Brawer and Assistant Medical Director Dr. Puneet Gupta, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Battalion 13 A, Division 6, Central Region.
Opening the press conference, Jones stressed St. Francis Medical Center’s dedication to providing critical lifesaving care throughout the pandemic, serving more COVID patients in one of the most disproportionately impacted and underserved areas of California. He announced that St. Francis is participating in the California Vaccine Network, a statewide effort to coordinate and expand delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly to communities disproportionately impacted by the virus. St. Francis, a member of Prime Healthcare, was one of fifteen Prime hospitals across the state to have been chosen for the program.
As a California Vaccine Network provider, St. Francis will work closely with Los Angeles County health officials to ensure vaccines are distributed equitably and fairly as more doses become available in the weeks and months ahead.
Expanding on Jones’ announcement, Dr. Kavitha Bhatia emphasized Prime Healthcare’s commitment to overcoming the pandemic. “We are incredibly grateful to now be providing vaccine which is life changing and live-saving,” stated Bhatia. She continued, “Prime’s mission is to bring quality compassionate care to communities, expand access, and promote health equity by bringing care to those most in need and improve the health of all we serve.”
Mayor Santana noted that the City of Lynwood’s partnership with St. Francis, Prime Healthcare, Speaker Rendon’s office, and SELA Collaborative put a spotlight on communities that have been overlooked. She said, “Equity matters. Access matters. We want to let black and brown communities know they are not forgotten.” Underscoring the significance of the clinic, Santana stated, “Our voices were heard because here we are at St. Francis Medical Center.”
In a statement shared by Field Representative Landa, Speaker Rendon acknowledged how deeply Lynwood and Southeast LA have been impacted by the coronavirus. He hoped that today’s clinic could be a model for more community partnerships.
Speaking on behalf of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Dr. Puneet Gupta acknowledged that first responders were not immune to COVID-19. He said, “In the beginning, when the virus surged, we surged.” He went on to share that LA County fire fighters welcomed the vaccine, and within a week of it becoming available, they were vaccinated. He said, “When the second surge hit, we didn’t.” He closed with thanks to the clinic partners for continuing to serve the community.
SELA Collaborative’s Dr. Wilma Franco offered insight into the cities her organization and the partnership are reaching. She cited that their target communities comprise more than 90 percent Hispanics or Latinos. Of the people accessing SELA’s services, such as the COVID-19 vaccine clinic, upwards of 50 percent are women. Through partnerships such as this one, she looked forward to building collective power and awareness that will inspire innovation to drive regional systemic change.
The press conference concluded with Lynwood City Council Member Jose Luis Solache receiving his first COVID-19 immunization in a show of support and encouragement for the community to get vaccinated.
The event received widespread support from additional state and local leaders, including Congresswoman Nanette Barragan (44th District) and Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Holly Mitchell (2nd District), who each sent representatives to recognize clinic partners and greet members of the community.
As St. Francis’ clinic continued throughout the day, it was met with an overwhelming response from residents. In addition to the more than 900 appointments that were made through the City of Lynwood, several hundred more people came on a walk-in basis.
When asked why the community clinic was important to her, Alicia, a Lynwood resident, responded, “I don’t want to infect my mother-in-law who is delicate. She lives with us.” Alicia went on the report that her mother-in-law had also received her first vaccination at St. Francis earlier in the day.
As part of the California Vaccine Network, St. Francis Medical Center will utilize the State’s appointment and access portal called My Turn, where patients can register, schedule and receive important information and updates. The community can make an appointment by visiting myturn.ca.gov or by calling the CA COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255.