Ascension Wisconsin Community Services, Milwaukee, Racine and Appleton, 2021 Community Benefit

Increasing Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations in Underserved Communities

Heather Schimmers, Chief Nursing Officer, Ascension Wisconsin, vaccinates Guillermo and Eva Robelo under supervision of their three-year-old daughter Eileen.
As part of the commitment to improving the health of the community, the Ascension Wisconsin community services team created a multi-disciplinary team focused on vaccinating underserved and vulnerable populations when they are eligible. The team’s work included identifying and developing solutions to barriers, implementing a comprehensive community engagement and outreach plan, proactive outreach and assistance for prioritized patients and creating multiple mobile and large-scale vaccination clinics to reach the most vulnerable in Racine, Milwaukee and the Fox Valley. 
The first large-scale community vaccination clinic was a six-week initiative with Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers to significantly expand access to COVID-19 vaccinations on the south side of Milwaukee. Ascension Wisconsin’s community services team provided staffing, operational guidance and process improvement strategies for the vaccine clinic. Between March 10 - April 16, 2021, more than 6,300 vaccines were administered. 
To help break down barriers to care, pop-up vaccine clinics were held at familiar community locations where people felt safe—often non-clinical settings like the clinic that was held inside Racine’s HALO homeless shelter on March 28, 2021. One month later, Ascension Wisconsin partnered with the Social Development Commission and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee to host two vaccination clinics in Milwaukee neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. These collaborations helped increase the number of vaccinations provided to community members who might not otherwise receive the vaccine. To date, more than 250 vaccines have been administered at pop-up clinics. 
The team also provided vaccinations where the need is greatest in Milwaukee and Racine at Ascension St. Ben’s Clinic, Ascension Angel of Hope Clinic, Ascension Ebenezer Health Resource Center, Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee - Family Health Center, Ascension All Saints Family Health Center, Ascension All Saints Hospital - Wisconsin Avenue Campus.