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THE INVALUABLE ROLE OF COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC
Two full years since the World Health Organization labeled Covid-19 a Pandemic, Families Together of Orange County reflects on the role that community health centers played in bridging the gap in access to services.
TUSTIN, Calif., March 10, 2022 – With more than 55,400 shots in arms and 29,100 Covid-19 tests conducted along with a myriad of social services and essential medical services, Families Together of Orange County, a nonprofit community health center, has played a key role in helping Orange County stay safe throughout the entirety of the pandemic.
In March of 2020, the healthcare industry faced a high level of uncertainty, with many clinics and health centers opting to close their doors. Families Together, however, chose to remain open and keep providing essential health services. And as testing and vaccines became available, the health center proceeded to help fight the pandemic by providing those services before any state or federal dollars came in. The organization eventually went on to participate in Orange County’s Covid-19 testing network and even became one of the top 10 vaccine administrators in Orange County.
At every opportunity, Families Together found ways to be innovative and overcome any obstacle that came about, including staff shortages, funding, PPE shortages, and most importantly, keeping staff and patients safe. Alexander Rossel, CEO of Families Together of Orange County, states:
“We’re here because of the community, and for the community. It is our duty to step up and be there for them when they need us. The pandemic has been tough on everyone in various ways, but we serve the zip codes in Orange County that were some of the most impacted by the pandemic. We knew that we needed to act, regardless of funding.”
Families Together works to help bridge the gap in access to essential health services by providing resources and solutions for people in the community to help get them the care they need. With an established relationship and trust within the community, Families Together and community health centers alike were well-positioned to fight the pandemic. But, with a lack of immediate funding, Families Together sought out solutions and partnerships to strengthen its pandemic response.
By partnering with local school districts, the City of Tustin, local chambers of commerce and more, Families Together brought vaccines and testing to the Orange County community at its physical locations and through its mobile health services helping to vaccinate more than 2,000 of Tustin Unified School District staff.
Community health centers are built to serve anyone who is in need of medical services, and are embedded into the communities they serve. With lower-income communities across the state having faced the brunt of the toll from the pandemic in both health and economic terms, local and state officials must not forget the invaluable resource the state already has built within community health centers.
On the ability of community health centers to mobilize in a health emergency, Rossel comments:
“Throughout the pandemic, community health centers were an afterthought in the pandemic response, but we had the tools to be able to combat the gaps in access to essential services such as vaccines, testing, and social resources. If Families Together and other community health centers had been brought into the fold earlier on, I think we would be telling a very different story today.”
When called upon, Families Together of Orange County and the network of community health centers across the state have the power to help close the gaps in healthcare and lead people from all types of backgrounds to a healthier and more prosperous life.
Families Together of Orange County provides medical, dental, vision, wellness and mental health services and provides tools for all community members to be able to access essential care. The story of Families Together during the pandemic is told in a video that can be found on the community health center’s YouTube channel here.
About Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center
Since 2003, Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center (FTOC) has proudly served the Orange County community with a myriad of health services while providing a welcoming, multi-lingual and patient – centered medical home to all. FTOC is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, FQHC look-alike, a member of the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers and the California Primary Care Association.
Please visit www.familiestogetheroc.org for more information on Families Together of Orange County and for the latest updates.
For interview requests and further information, please contact Cassie Rossel