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The effect of COVID-19 has been detrimental to populations across the country; however its impact on African-Americans, Hispanics and indigenous communities are alarming. According to the research collected by the Louisiana Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities (LA-CEAL) from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), communities of color were twice likely to contract and die from the virus and twice as likely to report job loss and economic hardship due to the pandemic, compared to caucasian communities.
Access Health Louisiana community health centers and school-based health centers operate in “high-need” areas where access to care is difficult. In Louisiana, those areas include parishes that are rural with a larger population of African-American and Hispanic communities.
The Access Health Louisiana (AHL) network of providers and staff have been on the front lines of COVID-19 since March 2020. Starting from its inception, the AHL Task Force developed a fast and innovative response to deliver aid and testing to Louisiana communities. The group was comprised of in-house healthcare administrators and medical staff, including Dr. MarkAlain Déry, DO, MPH, FACOI. Dr. Déry serves as Chief Innovation Officer for Access Health Louisiana, as well as the Medical Director for the AIDS Education and Training Center in New Orleans.
Most recently, Dr. Déry, serves as a partner with HALT-COVID Louisiana. HALT-COVID Louisiana is a statewide collaborative partnership effort by the Louisiana Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities (LA-CEAL).
“HALT COVID-LA is an important endeavor that Access Health Louisiana, other FQHC’s in the state, universities, and faith-based organizations are collaborating to foster community-level awareness and understanding regarding the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of COVID-19 on individuals, their families, and the larger community.”, stated by Dr. , Dr. Déry, DO, MPH, FACOI.
The Louisiana Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities is a joint effort of our state’s universities in partnership with federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), faith-based organizations, community pharmacies, the Urban League of Louisiana, the Skin You’re In (TSYI) project; in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Health. This partnership aims to provide communities with the resources and tools needed to protect neighborhoods, towns, cities, and parishes from the spread of COVID-19.
The LA-CEAL mission includes four objectives. The objectives concentrate on fostering community-level awareness and education that meet the needs of Louisianans most impacted by COVID-19. It also supports timely dissemination of accurate COVID-19 information and the decision-making about participation in COVID-19 prevention, like vaccines and therapeutic initiatives for communities across Louisiana which are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
As the research continues for COVID-19, individuals who have test positive for COVID-19 are eligible to participate in clinical trials and research to develop preventive treatments for those most vulnerable in the community. Individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered can donate convalescent plasma. Those who are interested in participating in research studies are eligible to volunteer for a clinical vaccine trail. For more information on how to participate please visit www.haltcovidla.com.