NAPA, Calif. -- Napa Valley is a world-famous wine region known for its food and wine. But the folks who live in the Napa Valley know first and foremost that it's all about community. They rise to the occasion to help each other during difficult times and the pandemic is no exception.
OLE Health and community members came together to get vulnerable residents vaccinated who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity.
Alicia Ferguson Hardy is the CEO of OLE Health and has a lot to be grateful for. "Today is a day for celebration, we're hitting our 10,000th dose. And that is so exciting," said Hardy. It took volunteers, donors and partners to make it happen, with the goal of helping those most impacted by the pandemic.
"I think what happened in this pandemic is it really exposed the equity issues that we see, particularly health equity. When we look at our positivity rates for who was contracting COVID-19 it was disproportionately our communities of color, and in Napa that includes our Latinx community," explained Hardy.
People lined up to get their shot well in advance and were filled with emotion at the thought of seeing friends and family again. Getting the vaccine was life changing for one patient. "I'm very happy for my family. Right now my mom, she's in the hospital. I can go see her and you know I feel really happy."
Another patient was all smiles, "The reason I did it is because of my health, and I also wanted to do it for my family and for those who surround me."
Making sure the vaccine was accessible to everyone was top priority, while finding a location that was close to public transit for those who don't drive.
"We wanted to get as many of our vulnerable community members vaccinated as quickly as possible. So we looked for locations that were able to have walk up clinics and we decided to move to the Napa Valley Wine Train," said Hardy.
Gregory Brun is a partner of the Napa Valley Wine Train and was happy to show support and let OLE Health use the facility. "Here they can set up semi-permanently until we're ready to reopen. And they're operating four days a week and not having to set up and tear down each day. So it ended up working out really well," said Brun.
Rex Stults of Napa Valley Vintners believes it's very important to support the community and help when needed.
"In almost 40 years, the Napa Valley Vintners have been able to contribute over $40 million to OLE Health, we just consider them such a trusted community partner. They take care of the underserved in the community, the people that need it the most, they always rise to the occasion, " said Stults. "And so when this opportunity to work together and provide vaccines came up, we jumped right on it. We knew that they could get the work done. They always do. And it's a privilege for us to be able to support this effort."
OLE Health was founded in 1972 by farm worker advocates to bring everyone access to primary care. The organization takes care of patients from birth through every stage of life and does not turn anyone away.
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