Addressing health equity through hyper-local collaboration and innovation – SaportaReport

By Katie Shapcott and Stephanie D. Adams, Ph.D. Center for Global Health Innovation, Office of Health Equity & Crisis Coordination

As vaccines and therapies allow most of us to learn to live with COVID-19, the virus’s hold on socially vulnerable communities remains. During the pandemic, the Center for Global Health Innovation (CGHI) spearheaded community efforts to combat disinformation and distrust and provide actionable guidance in neighborhoods and communities that need it most. Through a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Center is now building on this outreach work by implementing its Vaccine Access and Training (IVA) program in seven states.

The primary goal of the IVA program is to work with under-vaccinated and underserved communities to increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine and increase COVID-19 vaccination rates. Leveraging its partner network and collaborative strategies, CGHI brought together community health workers (CHWs), local clinics, health professionals, community organizations, public health experts and business partners to create an ecosystem to foster that trust in communities across Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas. Our community partners include Urban Strategies, Georgia College Rural Studies Institute, Wellstar Health System, Pima County Health Department, Detroit Association of Black Organizations, and Lukan Group.

CGHI’s outreach model is simple and focused on the community health worker. CHWs come from a variety of backgrounds, but they all have deep connections to their communities. They are trusted community leaders and longtime community members, people who have truly invested in their neighborhoods. CGHI surrounds CHWs with a support system that includes training, access to healthcare resources, and partnerships with healthcare professionals. A dedicated training and resources team of health professionals and public health experts from Johns Hopkins University, Emory University, the Association of Immunization Officers and the National Association of County and City Health Officials has developed training and a continuous tailored education on COVID-19 and vaccination, putting together toolkits and curated resources.

Social workers benefited from additional educational opportunities, developing new administrative skills, managing budgets and increasing their digital literacy. Through a partnership with Microsoft, the program features a communications platform that enables community health workers in all seven states to share experiences, challenges and successes. It helps foster a sense of community between diverse and distant groups, as well as provide a nuanced picture of outreach work as it happens. The platform also provides a channel for disseminating information from leadership directly to those in the field.

By employing and empowering trusted community members and leaders, CGHI has been able to address multiple social determinants of health while promoting confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. The program’s partnership has provided companies, such as Walmart and Wellstar Health System, with the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with the disadvantaged communities they serve. Through a partnership with Sharecare, the Well-Being Connect Community Hub VAT Program is born. This community hub will connect and strengthen our coalition of partners to maintain and enrich our existing community of stakeholders to improve the health of the understaffed communities we serve.

The impact of the VAT program, which was launched in the second quarter of 2022, is substantial and we expect it to grow exponentially as we continue our awareness. Over a 12-week period in Georgia, the program saw a seven-person outreach team in Metro Atlanta connect with over 40 trusted local partner organizations and deliver community outreach interactions to over 7,000 people. During the same period, a team of five community health workers in Augusta, Albany and surrounding rural areas connected with 30 trusted local partner organizations and provided community outreach interactions to over 5,000 people.

This hyper-local and collaborative approach has proven effective throughout the pandemic, especially for populations historically wary of public health. Its achievements and potential will be highlighted in a panel at CGHI’s Innovation Summit on 11 Octoberth, “The Last Mile: How Technology and Businesses Play a Role in Health Care Delivery.” By continuing to build trusting relationships in the community, CGHI hopes to restore faith and trust in the public health system.


The Center for Global Health Innovation is a 501 (c) (3) organization that brings together diverse global health, health technology, and life science entities to collaborate, innovate and enable solutions to improve health outcomes around the world. By organizing, accelerating and supporting talented individuals and successful companies to innovate around health issues, the Center works to improve health outcomes and address inequalities for every community, every individual around the world. The Center is the headquarters of the Global Health Innovation District based in Atlanta, GA, is a full-service biotech co-working facility and industry accelerator, offering flexible laboratory spaces and offices for early stage entrepreneurs and healthcare initiatives .


Follow CGHI on Twitter (@ Center4Global) and so on Facebook And LinkedIn.

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