April 29, 2021

Oregon health systems partner in vaccine equity efforts

Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health & Services will bring mobile vaccination clinics to underserved areas.

Contacts: Jean Powell Marks
Providence Health & Services

Debbie Karman
Kaiser Permanente 

Karen Kartes Piatt
Medical Teams International

PORTLAND, Ore. — Stressing the importance and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, the leader of Portland’s first African American Baptist church, Mt. Olivet, has opened a temporary vaccination clinic for his community.

The clinic is part of a neighborhood and community vaccination effort being led and funded by the 2 largest health care organizations in Oregon: Providence Health & Services and Kaiser Permanente. The health care systems have contracted with Medical Teams International to operate the community-based clinics, bringing vaccine equity into neighborhoods throughout Portland and the Willamette Valley.

“Providence is committed to achieving vaccine equity and doing so by partnering with and serving our culturally specific communities and communities of color,” said Joseph Ichter, director, Community Health Investment, Providence Health & Services. “Our aim is toward low-barrier, community-centered vaccination options, creating a more inclusive space for vaccinations through engaging community partners in scheduling and hosting.”

Providence has contracted with Medical Teams International to work with a half dozen local churches and organizations in Multnomah and Washington counties, with dozens of clinics scheduled throughout the summer at these sites. Providence expects to vaccinate approximately 500 people each week at the community clinics.

Local organization and religious leaders are reaching out to their community members to register people for vaccinations. Providence’s first clinic opened earlier this month at Mt. Olivet.

“When things happen in the community it’s typically the churches that are the first responders,” said Wendell Robinson, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church senior pastor. “So for us in the midst of a pandemic with the need to get the needle in the arm — to get people vaccinated — it makes perfect sense for the church, with the reach we have, to be the distribution point.”

Kaiser Permanente will launch its first mobile vaccine clinics in May, and is planning to deploy the MTI teams for 50 clinic days throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington this spring and summer. Kaiser Permanente will partner with employers and local community-based organizations that serve people facing some of the greatest barriers to getting vaccinated, including people who speak limited English.

Many of the groups most impacted by COVID-19 have also faced challenges in getting vaccinated,” said Wendy Watson, chief operating officer of Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest. “By working with Medical Teams International, we can help meet our underserved neighbors and communities where they are, at times and locations that are convenient for them.”

Combined, the Kaiser Permanente- and Providence-funded effort will serve an expected 6,000 Oregonians who have had difficulty securing vaccinations over the course of 100 clinic days.

Medical Teams International’s expertise in mobile clinic operations allowed the program to begin serving community members soon after the health systems brought the idea forward.

“Medical Teams is privileged to serve our neighbors with COVID-19 vaccinations in partnership with Providence and Kaiser Permanente,” said Martha Newsome, Medical Teams International president and chief executive officer. “We strongly believe that this community-driven approach will help reach and protect many people from the disease who might not otherwise have access to the vaccine.”

Depending on vaccine availability, initial plans call for the clinics to operate through the end of July. That could change based on the demand in the communities. All vaccines are by appointment only, with registration through the involved local churches and organizations.

Medical Teams International

Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees. We care for the whole person — physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people — regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Learn more at medicalteams.org and on social media using @medicalteams.

Providence Health & Services in Oregon

Providence Health & Services in Oregon offers a comprehensive array of health and education services through its eight hospitals, medical clinics, health plans, long-term care facilities and home health services. With more than 23,000 employees, Providence is the state’s largest private employer. Visit providence.org/oregon.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.