RI Delegation Announces Funding to Boost Local Vaccination Efforts & Expand Access
CRANSTON, RI – Comprehensive Community Action (CCAP) Family Health Services in Cranston is getting nearly $3 million from the recently enacted American Rescue Plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, President Joe Biden announced $6 billion in allocations to 1,400 community health centers nationwide. As a result, Rhode Island community health centers will receive nearly $33.5 million to expand access to vaccines, get more shots into arms, conduct outreach to underserved communities, and support essential workers. The federal funds will expand COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations, deliver preventive and primary health care services to people at higher risk for COVID-19, and expand health centers’ operational capacity.
Today, members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation joined Jim Vincent, executive director of the NAACP Providence Branch, and health and community outreach officials at CCAP, to highlight the need to get more vaccines out to people in underserved communities and the important role community health centers play in serving vulnerable populations and improving public health.
The lawmakers say it is imperative to get the vaccines to high-risk people and note that the pandemic has had a particularly devastating impact upon people of color and underserved communities. While more doses of vaccine are coming to Rhode Island, they say more needs to be done to increase vaccination rates and this new federal funding will help inoculate people in communities that have been hit hardest.
According to the latest report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), about 8 percent of Blacks have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 20 percent of the overall population. Similarly, Latinos make up only 9 percent of all vaccine recipients nationwide. KFF notes: “preventing racial disparities in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines will be important to help mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the virus for people of color and prevent widening racial health disparities going forward. Moreover, reaching high vaccination rates across individuals and communities will be key for achieving broader population immunity through a vaccine.”
“We’ve got to boost vaccine delivery and expand access while eliminating barriers to health care and systemic disparities in the health system. This injection of federal funding will help community health centers across the state combat COVID-19, vaccinate more people, and deliver essential health services now and in the future. This is a smart investment in improving public health that will accelerate vaccine delivery to our most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Jack Reed.
“This American Rescue Plan funding will increase the availability of vaccines at community health centers, which are trusted health care providers in the neighborhoods they serve,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “We are prioritizing getting more vaccines to the Black and Hispanic communities that have disproportionately borne the brunt of the pandemic in Rhode Island.”
“The importance of community-based healthcare cannot be overstated,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “Bringing vaccines, testing, and treatment directly into the neighborhoods that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic will make a real difference in these communities. I’m proud that Congress has made these critical investments in Rhode Island's community health centers to support their critical work protecting public health.”
“Community health centers like CCAP are the lynchpin of Rhode Island’s public health efforts,” Congressman David Cicilline said. “Their success is key for crushing this virus and getting our lives back to normal. These federal dollars will help get more shots into arms and continue to reach out to the most underserved folks in our state to put the pandemic behind us.”
“The issue we are confronting is access. As the Board Chair of the East Bay Community Action Program, I see firsthand how community health centers are uniquely positioned to serve our BIPOC communities. Rhode Island’s community health centers have long worked to expand access to preventive, primary and behavioral healthcare. Now, they’re tackling COVID-19. By providing this funding to our health centers, we are targeting resources for vaccination, testing and treatment in the communities that need it most,” said Jim Vincent, who also serves as the President of the Providence Branch of the NAACP and is a member of the Governor’s Equity Council.
“The community health centers were founded to provide health care that is directly responsive to each community’s individual needs. We are thankful to our Congressional delegation for their contributions to this historic moment which recognizes health centers’ important role of providing COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination to our at-risk, an often hardest-hit areas, in Rhode Island,” said Jane Hayward, President & CEO, Rhode Island Health Center Association.
Community health centers care for approximately 30 million Americans nationwide. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, over 90 percent of health center patients are those living at or below the federal poverty guideline, and nearly 63 percent of patients are racial or ethnic minorities.
Other community health centers in Rhode Island set to receive federal funds include:
- Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Inc. (Pawtucket): $4 million
- East Bay Community Action Program (Newport): $2.4 million
- Northwest Community Health Care (Pascoag): $2.8 million
- Providence Community Health Centers (Providence): $9.7 million
- Thundermist Health Center (Woonsocket): $8.4 million
- Tri-County Community Action Agency (Johnston): $1.6 million
- Wood River Health Services, Inc. (Hope Valley): $1.4 million
“Blackstone Valley is extremely pleased to participate in the HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program,” said Ray Lavoie, Executive Director of Blackstone Valley Community Health Care. “Being assured of a secure source of vaccine will allow us to schedule appointments in our vaccine clinic well into the next quarter without concern for an adequate supply of vaccine. Our staff and patients will be pleased when we are able to offer vaccine appointments to the hundreds of callers every day.”
In addition to this new federal funding, CCAP received more than $1.2 million in supplemental funding last year from the various COVID-19 relief packages to help care for COVID-19 patients, expand COVID-19 testing, and cover lost revenue due to the pandemic. In total, community health centers in Rhode Island received $11.5 million last year in federal COVID-19 relief funds.
CCAP Family Health Services is currently vaccinating patients age 18-64 with qualifying medical conditions and those 65 and older. To qualify, patients must be 18 and older or older and have previously received health care service (any service at any site) at CCAP Family Health Services. Appointments can be made by calling: (401) 943-1981.