The Congreso Health Center, part of the PHMC Health Network, is a Federally Qualified Health Center that has been working tirelessly to support our community’s critical health needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the Congreso Health Center served approximately 3,700 unduplicated patients with just under 12,000 visits to support our community members with primary care, pediatrics, STD care and contraception management, HIV/Hep C care, medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, specialty care referral coordination and case management.
As of March 17th, the Congreso Health Center had administered 419 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and has 144 appointments through this Saturday, March 20th, with 64 of those being second doses. Over the last few weeks, as vaccine doses have become more readily available to us, the Congreso Health Center has counted on a team of dedicated medical providers, Registered Nurses, and Medical Assistants who have been working overtime on nights and weekend to vaccinate folks, while continuing our ongoing patient care during regular hours.
Additionally, the Congreso Health Center has hired 13 temporary staff through Aveanna Healthcare, who started this past Monday, March 15th. Once this team is completely onboarded, the Congreso Health Center will have the capacity to vaccinate approximately 500 people per week and as early as next week, the daily capacity will increase to approximately 60 doses per weekday, and this will continue to increase in the coming weeks. We will also continue to make vaccines available in evening hours and on Saturdays in the coming months.
Noting that while Latinos make up 15% of Philadelphia’s total population and just under 6% of vaccines in the city have gone to Latinos, Congreso continues to explore and pursue opportunities to expand our capacity to support not only our patients, but the broader community, with accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Congreso has participated in numerous conversations with partners to advocate for equitable vaccine distribution and to discuss expanding vaccine access and bilingual education to Philadelphia’s Latino community. We have been in ongoing conversations with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, City Leadership, the Latino Health Collective facilitated by Drexel, the Pennsylvania Immunization Association, and others.
Congreso team members participated in focus groups hosted by Philly Counts to inform the City’s COVID-19 vaccine public education campaign. We will be actively participating in the upcoming COVID Vaccine Champion training tomorrow, March 18th as well. We encourage community members and partners to collaborate with us in this important effort to get our community vaccinated!
Recently, Judith Emmons, Director of Primary Care at the Congreso Health Center, and Julia Rivera, Vice President of External Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, participated in the VacinNATION virtual event alongside Senator Bob Casey highlighting the importance of the vaccine and efforts to improve access. On Tuesday, March 30th, Julia will also be participating in a panel hosted by AL DIA and AARP regarding COVID-19 vaccine education. We encourage people to tune in by registering here.
Finally, in addition to our vaccination and outreach efforts, the Congreso Health Center continues to provide COVID-19 testing to both patients and community members, daily. Community members can call the Congreso Health Center at 267-765-2272 to make an appointment for testing or to inquire about additional services and supports available.