Tasha Robinson sat in the observation area of the COVID-19 vaccination site, set up by Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) at Naranja Park. Although her mouth was covered by her mask, she smiled excitedly with her eyes. Just minutes prior, Tasha had received the shot outside the CHI’s mobile medical van.
“I feel so much better. I feel safe and relieved,” said Robinson.
Two years ago, she had a stroke and is still recovering from the effects. As she sat in her wheelchair, she shared her renewed outlook of hope and optimism, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination.
“I don’t want to get sick anymore,” she said. “I just want to do my best to stay healthy.”
CHI has administered the free vaccine to more than 4,700 people in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. What makes the non-profit healthcare company’s approach unique is twofold. First, CHI has been reaching out to underserved patients and community members without health insurance and few resources. Second, the federally qualified health center has utilized its outreach team and mobile medical van to go into public housing complexes, community parks, and even homeless encampments to vaccinate.
“We have always believed that health care should be accessible to everyone, regardless of income, race or class,” said Brodes H. Hartley, Jr. CEO of CHI. “Our vaccination efforts have worked to ensure the most vulnerable populations are reached along with everyone else. It’s what we do. We have been putting patient care first for 50 years.”
Among those vaccinated by CHI, 46 percent were Hispanic and 25 percent were Black. Minorities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and CHI has pushed to ensure those populations do not get left behind.
Beverly Drinkwater also received her vaccination at the same event as Robinson.
“It means giving me, hopefully, peace of mind,” said Drinkwater. “Until we all get vaccinated this is not going to go away. I really don’t want my grandchildren for the rest of their lives growing up with this over their heads and having to wear masks.”
CHI has been at the forefront of the pandemic response. It was the first to offer drive-through COVID-19 testing in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, and it continues to lead the way with its vaccination efforts.
Those looking to get vaccinated can request to be put on the list by visiting the CHI website, chisouthfl.org or calling (305) 252-4820.