The late Dr. Jack Geiger and Sandra Cotterell, CEO of the Codman Square Health Center. 2015 Bill Walczak photo
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BOSTON — The rocky rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts is starting to show some progress. 25 Investigates has been examining what it really takes to get these doses out there and the hurdles healthcare providers are facing.
The rollout has been called bumpy and in some cases just plain slow. On the ground at healthcare centers, they accept some, but not all of that criticism.
“I think it’s fair criticism. But at the same we can’t anticipate everything,” said Stan McLaren, CEO of the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center in Dorchester.
Despite the turbulent year, Harvard Street is very excited about its expanded and new partnerships. These partnership include a strategic relationship with the City of Boston to expand COVID-19 Testing in various neighborhoods and housing developments throughout the city; our continued relationship with Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Faith Based Initiative to continue our COVID-19 Testing and health education; Children Services of Roxbury where we not only conduct COVID-19 Testing each Tuesday, but practice a patient referral program that benefits clients from their agency and our health center; Prince Hall Grand Lodge for Testing Thursdays. We continued our partnership with Project WRIGHT and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Trauma Grant providing Behavioral Health counseling and support to individuals and families who experience trauma in the Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan communities.
We’ve also expanded our partnership with Franklin Park Zoo on the Culture Rx Project; Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts where we collaborate and offer COVID-19 Testing to residents of Roxbury, its members and HSNHC’s CEO Stan McLaren Harvard Street participated in the December Leaders Over Lunch with colleagues Tom Sands, President and CEO of Carney Hospital and Frederica Williams, President and CEO of Whittier Street Health Center. In the spring of 2021, we look forward to expanding this collaboration with ULEM to include Roxbury Community College for a Medical Assistance (MA) Training program where Harvard Street will help interview students identified by ULEM and serve as an Internship site for the students trained in RCC’s MA program.
Harvard Street welcomes a new strategic alliance with Gilead Pharmaceuticals and will collaborate on several programs in the New Year. The first will be National Black HIV/Aids Awareness Day on February 7, 2021. This observance is an opportunity to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among black communities. Additionally, we are very excited to bring financial education to our employees and the community through the partnership with Fidelity Investments. We look forward to introducing them to key elements of financial planning that will strengthen their financial health and their families and our community.
Finally, we are excited about the completion of a project that began in 2017 by Harvard Street’s Dr. Alice Lin that involved working with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to increase Colon Cancer screening. We were able to increase the Colon Cancer screening rate at Harvard Street from 42% to 60% from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, we continue a collaboration with Upstream USA to reduce unplanned pregnancy by increasing access to a full range of contraceptive options with our patients.
Wishing you a healthy, productive, and inspiring New Year!
Your Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center Family
Harvard Street believes in taking care of the whole person and family, which is why it has operated a Food Pantry at its 895 Blue Hill Avenue Building for the past 30 years. Each month hundreds of individuals and families are given bags of food to supplement their needs. However, since the COVID-19 Pandemic, more and more families have called our food service line requesting assistance or referred directly from our Nutritionist. Many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and are experiencing severe food insecurities. Harvard Street purchases food from the Greater Boston Food Bank and partners with Morning Star Baptist Church on referrals and food short falls. In 2021, we will be expanding our efforts to further address food insecurities throughout the community.