NAACP Champaign County Branch Pandemic Health Navigator (PHN) Program Grant
The overall mission of the NAACPCC Branch is to work to improve the quality of life for all the people it serves. As such, quality health is an important part of our mission. Due to the spread of COVID-19, in August 2020, like the rest of the country, we moved our operations to the online environment. It was during this time that we decided to host our annual Freedom Fund Banquet, for the first time, virtually. Like many people, we witnessed our world—as we once knew it—spin out of control. We saw that the virus did not discriminate. However, because the health care system has not always served our Black and Brown citizens as uniformly as it has served our white sisters and brothers, researchers observed a greater loss of life of people of color due to preexisting conditions and a distrust of the health care system informed by a long history of discrimination in the health care system.
The NAACPCC Branch Executive members dialogued about how best to address the legitimate community concerns that many of us, including NAACPCC members had about vaccination efforts. In order to address those concerns, the NAACPCC Branch applied for and received a Pandemic Health Navigator Grant in partnership with the Illinois Health Association and the Illinois Primary Care Association to implement a program to coordinate resources for our most vulnerable population impacted by COVID-19. The goals of the NAACPCC Public Health Navigator Program are to educate the community about COVID-19, dispel myths causing vaccine hesitancy, encourage people to listen to scientific guidance, and inspire unvaccinated people to step up and get that shot in the arm.
Details about the program and resources provided to the community are below:
Information Campaign and Vaccination Clinics
The NAACPCC Branch hosted three different Zoom meetings that were open to the public with our local Public Health Administrator, Julie Pryde, and one or two doctors of color who had publicly taken the vaccine to (1) share their experiences with the Black community, (2) answer questions, (3) address worries that community members might have about the safety of the vaccines, and (4) to encourage Black and Brown community members to trust the science and take the vaccine.
The NAACPCC Branch also hosted several information conferences to accomplish the same goals of the Zoom meetings. More conferences will be hosted as needed.
The NAACPCC also began our “Soles on the Pavement” program where members walk through our communities, educating, motivating, encouraging community members to receive the vaccine, and hopefully leading by example by demonstrating to community members how the vaccine is a life changer.
After multiple efforts to encourage community members to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the NAACPCC Branch held two, full-scale vaccination clinics for the local community. Several more vaccination clinics are planned for the future.
The NAACPCC Branch Community Health Workers (CHWs) have purchased and distributed masks, hand sanitizers, medical supplies, and prescriptions to community members in need. Distribution of these supplies will continue as necessary to serve the community.
The CHWs and supervisors have also purchased and delivered food, needed household supplies, various materials for children, clothing items, and more to families in need. The NAACPCC Branch will continue these services for community members negatively impacted by the pandemic going forward and into the future.
The NAACPCC Branch members have delivered over 300 boxes of food to families, daycare centers, housing complexes, and senior citizens in need. Food insecurity has been a key feature of the pandemic. The NAACPCC Branch has worked tirelessly to address this problem and will also continue this work in the future.
The NAACPCC Branch Pandemic Health Navigator (PHN) team has served as an information hub, directing community members to resources for childcare, rental and utility assistance, and other emergency community services while developing partnerships with other community resources, especially health care workers in the community. This work has been integral to the overall success of the NAACPCC Branch PHN Program.
The NAACPCC Branch is and will continue to work to make a difference in Champaign County.
Minnie Pearson NAACPCC Branch President
Dr. Barbara Gillespie (CHW) Supervisor
Michelle Sturgis (PHN) Program Exec. Admin. Director