To date, Open Door has provided vaccinations to close to 25,000 individuals. However, vaccine hesitancy continues to persist throughout Open Door communities and Open Door is responding. For many of our families, Open Door is the first and only line of health defense before hospital emergency rooms.
Throughout the pandemic, Open Door has quickly responded to the needs of the community, offering testing beginning early in 2020 and making all three vaccinations available at Open Door. Open Door was one of the first Federally Qualified Health Centers to participate in the federal COVID-19 vaccination program. To address concerns expressed by some patients, Open Door has developed the COVID-19 Outreach Program, funded by the Westchester County Department of Health, Phelps Hospital, and CHCANYS. Through this program, Open Door aims to outreach to educate and link eligible, harder to reach, vulnerable individuals to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Every week, Open Door COVID-19 Outreach Specialist John Rodriguez visits businesses throughout Westchester, such as local nail salons, barbershops, grocery stores, and the Ossining Town Hall. John answers questions, provides education, and addresses misinformation about COVID-19 to everyone he encounters. “I spoke with two brothers from Ecuador who work as day laborers in Ossining. After speaking with them for 15 minutes, one brother decided to get vaccinated. I brought him to Open Door, helped him register, and he got vaccinated immediately,” John recalled.
In addition to speaking with people on an individual basis and attending community events, John also gives educational presentations to partner organizations whose audiences include both clients and staff members. Recently, the YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester hosted "COVID-19 and Vaccination Info Sessions" where John presented. Additionally, attendees had their questions answered by Dr. Leanne Forman who is Program Director of Internal Medicine Residency Program at Westchester Medical Center. These residents receive training at Open Door.
“As a community health center, we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to make sure that the individuals who are at highest exposure and risk for COVID-19 have the information and access to get vaccinated,” said Open Door Marketing Director Grace Battaglia. “John’s role is very important to our communities because patients can get their questions answered by someone who is a trusted member of the community. John added, “With so much changing on a regular basis, people need someone they trust to provide them with accurate, up to date, and dependable information. I want to spread the word that the COVID-19 vaccine can save lives.”