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Prisma Health launches mobile vaccination effort to reach rural and underserved communities

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Seven mobile clinic units to be deployed as effort expands to increase vaccine accessibility

Greenville S.C.—Prisma Health is launching an initiative to take mobile units into rural and underserved communities, where recent data indicates there are substantial barriers for eligible residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Prisma Health’s Mobile Health Clinics, custom-equipped RV-type vehicles, are staffed by medical professionals. Two pilot mobile vaccination events were held at Midlands and Upstate community partner sites on Saturday, February 20, for adults age 65 and older. A total of 258 first-dose vaccinations were given to eligible community members in the two pilot events.

Prisma Health is committed to ensuring access to rural and underserved areas, especially as vaccine eligibility widens to more age groups in the months ahead. Kerry Sease, MD, Prisma Health physician and COVID-19 mobile operations leader, is excited about the mobile vaccination effort. “Our team is ready and our trusted community partners, those organizations who intimately know the challenges facing their local residents and whole neighborhoods, are so important in this collaborative effort. They will serve as our host sites and help us specifically reach those who are vulnerable, eligible and ready to get vaccinated.”

The community-specific events require appointment times and will be organized as drive-through sites. All mobile clinic events are contingent on vaccine availability and weather conditions. Community partners in targeted areas are reaching out to their constituents and assisting individuals with making appointments for the mobile events. The mobile units will return to each location in approximately three weeks to administer second doses as well as limited first doses and walk-ups for those who are eligible.

Following the pilot events, the program is set to deploy up to three Mobile Health Clinic vehicles in the Upstate and three more of the special vehicles have been ordered for the Midlands service area. Three of the mobile health units were made possible through Greenville County CARES Act funding. When fully operational by late spring, a total of seven Mobile Health Clinic vehicles will be ready to serve areas with healthcare access challenges for vaccinations. For example, people living in rural areas with limited broadband access and those who don’t have email accounts have difficulty registering online for appointments or receiving information about being vaccinated. Data also indicates that minority populations have been severely impacted by the pandemic and have limited access to vaccination opportunities. Other challenges include availability of transportation and assistance for the elderly.

Prisma Health’s existing Mobile Health Clinics have provided health screening, education, referral and care services in vulnerable communities across the Upstate and Midlands region before and during the pandemic. Preparation and logistical planning for the mobile vaccination effort is ongoing, pending vaccine availability, site confirmation and for each Mobile Health Clinic to be authorized as a vaccination site by South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

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About Prisma Health

Prisma Health is a not-for-profit health company and the largest healthcare system in South Carolina. With nearly 30,000 team members, 18 hospitals, 2,947 beds and more than 300 outpatient sites with nearly 2,000 physicians, Prisma Health serves more than 1.2 million unique patients annually in its 21-county market area that covers 50% of South Carolina. Prisma Health’s goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care, as well as conducting clinical research and training the next generation of medical professionals.

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