By Lindsay Williams
Last summer, Worksite Labs took the first step in fulfilling a goal close to our hearts: providing critical healthcare to some of the country’s most underserved populations, free of charge. By leveraging our connections to faith communities, we established community sites in Brooklyn and South Los Angeles.
Half a year and counting later, we’ve been gifted with more opportunities to connect with and bolster these vulnerable populations than we could have imagined. Not only have we delivered reliable COVID-19 preventive services — including more than 8,000 free tests — but we’ve added a broader range of health offerings and other service-oriented initiatives.
To celebrate our community sites’ six-month birthdays, let’s look back on six ways they’ve enabled Worksite Labs to serve the residents of Brooklyn and South L.A.
1. Providing comprehensive healthcare
As with our 20-plus commercial sites across the United States, these two community sites offer on-site PCR testing with 24-hour results, guaranteed. We also occasionally provide free COVID-19 vaccines, but our services go far beyond pandemic health.
During special health fairs, we’ve provided services including blood pressure and blood sugar tests, aromatherapy and general health screenings. Patients can also benefit from information sessions covering health topics like nutrition and mental wellness.
Making these resources available in one place brings locals with limited access to medical care and education a step closer to the equity they deserve.
2. Flexibly meeting needs and opportunities
Our community sites have routine Monday-to-Friday schedules like many other healthcare providers, but we readily take opportunities to stretch our usual parameters for the sake of patients.
We’ve adjusted our hours to accommodate students who need after-school testing during the academic year, and we’ve even opened on weekends during large community events. For example, our Brooklyn site stayed open during a nearby weekend block party so the many passersby could grab a quick test if needed.
Soon after opening the community sites, we launched a dedicated online portal to make scheduling a test and viewing the results in English and Spanish a breeze. However, we recognize that not all our clients have the access to email or the internet necessary to use this tool, so we keep printers on site to provide hard copy results to those without online access.
3. Speaking residents’ language (literally!)
Individuals can experience the online portal in their choice of English or Spanish, paralleling our on-site faith community nurses’ ability to meet patients where they are. Nearly half of our South L.A. patients (if not more) prefer speaking Spanish with our bilingual nursing staff, as does a sizeable portion of our Brooklyn patients.
As of 2020, less than 6% of physicians in the U.S. identify as Hispanic, compared to more than 18% of the U.S. population. This means millions of Spanish-speaking Americans likely don’t receive healthcare from those who speak their own language and are thus unable to fully communicate their own needs.
With bilingual nurses at our sites, Spanish-speaking patients are not only comforted, but can more readily trust their caregivers with whatever questions, concerns or information they wish to communicate.
4. Fostering peace of mind
For many, getting a COVID-19 test isn’t a one-time deal or just for special occasions. Several locals have become community site regulars, stopping by roughly the same time every week to confirm they’re COVID-19 negative before attending church, going to school, visiting grandkids or participating in other recurring activities.
Further, as more employers impose COVID-19 health mandates, members of the workforce are turning to us for required testing. As a regular stop for those whose livelihoods rely on in-person labor, we help ease their concerns as they make ends meet and care for their families.
Our partnerships with Brooklyn’s Universal Baptist Church and L.A.’s Peace Chapel Church also strengthen patients’ peace of mind and help us build trust with them. The presence of church leaders both comforts residents and helps the Worksite Labs health messages to resonate. If testing and other health tools are something a pastor will (no pun intended) bless, it’s more likely for locals to adopt them too.
5. Hosting community bonding events
Our community health fairs don’t make patients feel like they’re at any ho-hum checkup. We work to create a social, community-building atmosphere and get people connected through activities, discussions, sometimes even a DJ — it’s always a good time.
In addition to the health fairs, we love to host and participate in seasonal giveaways. In November, we distributed free Thanksgiving meals, and last month we provided testing to accompany Peace Chapel Church’s holiday toy giveaway.
6. Looking for opportunities to grow
We’re humbled by the embrace from the Brooklyn and South L.A. communities we serve, and we owe it to them to continue expanding our offerings.
Many people benefit from the especially quick turnaround time of antigen testing. We’d like to add that testing option to our list of services soon, so that anyone who’s crunched for time can get where they need to go. Further, we hope to introduce more health screening tools, including cholesterol screenings, to our community health fairs.
And, as always, we remain open to establishing more community sites in underserved pockets across the country. Everyone deserves quality care and the comfort of community; we can’t wait to see what opportunities to love our neighbors await in the months and years to come.
Lindsay Williams is chief clinical officer of Worksite Labs.