In one of the most significant efforts to vaccinate the region's vulnerable residents from COVID-19, Duquesne University medical professionals have administered more than 5,500 doses at a Hill District clinic - and they aren't done yet.
The clinic, which is run by the university's Center for Integrative Health (CIH), has recently seen an uptick in patients requesting the COVID-19 vaccine, said Dr. Jennifer Elliott, CIH director and Fritzky Family Chair in Integrative Medicine and Wellbeing.
The clinic, located in Central Baptist Church, has been offering the vaccine since the spring through a partnership with Duquesne and the Allegheny County Health Department. When demand for the vaccine waned, the university's CIH continued to offer the vaccine along with a variety of health screenings and care coordination at the church.
"We are beginning to see more people request the COVID-19 vaccine," Elliott said. "In addition, we are providing health screenings for those chronic conditions that increase risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We work with residents to get them connected to care in their neighborhood and enroll in chronic disease management programs. Soon, we will also be offering flu immunizations."
Black and low-income communities have been hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19 cases and deaths, and often lack convenient access to health care and other resources. The Hill District clinic is open on Sundays after church services and on Wednesdays.
"Many of these residents face significant barriers to health care and other needs," Elliott said. "The clinic allows us to reach people in and near their neighborhoods, offering them access to essential services they may not otherwise obtain."
The CIH clinic at Central Baptist Church is just the latest example of the university's commitment to building healthier communities in underserved areas. Last year, the center received a $475,000 grant from the Hillman Foundation for the Bridges to Health program, which addresses disparities in COVID-19 and disease outcomes in Hazelwood and Clairton.