Testing For COVID-19 In Communities of Color

Chairwoman April Baskin’s Call for Eastside Testing Site Passes Unanimously, Bringing COVID Testing Site to Delavan Ave.After significant pressure from the 2nd District Legislator, Erie County partners with Kaleida to make testing more available in the 14215 zip code. 

A resolution calling on Erie County to establish an easily accessible testing site on Buffalo’s Eastside, which was primarily sponsored by Chairwoman April Baskin (D- Buffalo), passed  with unanimous support of the Erie County Legislature.   

The Eastside site,   located at the Leroy Coles branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System located at 1187 E. Delavan Avenue, began operating last Friday. 

Chairwoman Baskin

Legislator Baskin announced earlier this week  that since last Friday, April 24, during 8 hours of operation, a total of 80  individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 were tested, demonstrating the need to expand testing hours of operation. 

“This site will now be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and increase the maximum number of specimens to 90 per day,” she said.

Although appointments are required, testing is available to ANY resident with symptoms,   not just a symptomatic essential workers and their families. A prescription from a primary care provider ordering the test is preferred, but   individuals  with symptoms who do not have a primary care doctor can still contact Kaleida to schedule a testing appointment by way of  their website at www.kaleidahealth.org or by calling  859-3222.  Remember, you still need to schedule an appointment!  

The resolution from April 13th identified the significant health disparities made worse during the COVID19 crisis and called on Erie County to proactively implement a “drive-thru” style testing site with minimal person to person contact on Buffalo’s Eastside, as has been done in several suburbs including Amherst and Lancaster.  Three of the zip codes (14208, 14211, 14215) in this area have a proportionately high number of positive COVID19 cases. These locations also happen to be the home of numerous low-wage essential workers and their families. National data suggests that neighborhood testing is crucial to guaranteeing positive health outcomes, especially in communities that lack access to quality preventive care.

“I want to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the men and women of the African American Health Disparities Task Force,” said Baskin. “Reverend George Nicholas and Reverend Kinzer Pointer were crucial to making this testing site a reality. Their counsel and insight helped me as I negotiated with my partners in government, and our community owes them a debt of gratitude for their work.”

“We must advocate for our communities now that testing is more widely available,” said Baskin. “Many of our essential workers on the front line live in this area and need convenient access to these resources so they can make positive health decisions for themselves and their families. I am grateful to the County Executive Mark Poloncarz for listening to and addressing the concerns I brought to him when my community was suffering. I applaud the willingness of Mayor Byron Brown to make this city owned facility available so quickly, and I’m equally thankful to Kaleida for being such willing partners,” stated Baskin.

Baskin continued, “We must still be vigilant in our homes and when we go out to protect ourselves – wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and continuing to wash our hands or use sanitizer is crucially important.  I’m grateful that Erie County has delivered on my request and now our community has the additional resources needed to continue the fight against this virus.”

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CHCB: We’re Here, We’re Open,  and We’re Offering Coronavirus Testing!

“We are playing an important role in containing the spread of the   COVID-19 Virus.  We are conducting diagnostic testing  and seeing patients through telemedicine.    Dr. LaVonne Ansari, CEO

CHCB CEO Dr. Lavonne Ansari

During the world’s worst health crisis in over a century, the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. (CHCB) is open and ready to serve you.  On Tuesday, May 7, CHCB  will begin offering weekly diagnostic Corona COVID-19 testing for their patients on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9 am to 4 p.m. at the Health Center’s  34 Benwood Avenue location.

If you are one of  the Community  Health Center of Buffalo’s  patients and are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, chills, dry cough, low energy), call our office at (716) 986-9199, ext. 5100 to schedule a COVID-19 test. You must have a prescription from your CHCB primary care provider to be tested.   

If you are not one of the Health Center’s  current patients and do not have a primary care provider or insurance,  the center  can still help you by scheduling you with one of their doctors and one of their NYS certified insurance enrollers will help you obtain insurance.    

“In addition, we welcome new patients.  We are still scheduling regular in-person and Telemedicine medical care and counseling appointments,”  according to a statment  from CHCB. Telemedicine visits are conducted using a computer or a smartphone and allow doctors to see or talk to patients in the safety of their homes.  Emergency dental and physical therapy appointments are also available by calling 986-9199.

Currently  The Community Health Center of Buffalo is  only testing its own patients and people who don’t have a primary care provider. However plans are underway for the Center to become a testing site where anyone can get tested and once that is finalized in the upcoming weeks, CHCB will announce it to the community. 

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G-Health Leads Community Response Plan to Combat COVID-19

Dr. Raul Vazquez has been leading the call for more testing in the community since early March. That was when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

He, along with Rev. George Nicholas, convener of the African American Health Disparities Task Force, were encouraged by the opening of the community’s  first coronavirus testing site   inside the Leroy R. Coles Branch Library  on East Delavan last  week.

“It’s  an absolute positive for the community and it’s going to help,” noted Pastor Nicholas.

Dr. Raul Vazquez of G-Health Enterprises

Dr. Vazquez, the visionary president and CEO of            G- Health Enterprises, a health care organization which encompasses several affiliates including GBUAHN and the  Urban Family Practice in the Jefferson Plaza, has launched a Community Action  Response Plan to unite churches, community based organizations, and medical partners in Western New York for a comprehensive approach to combat the coronavirus and lessen its effects on the community.

G-Health has begun to test the high risk patients of Urban Family Practice and is opening the testing to those patients of providers that participate in  The Greater Buffalo United Independent Physician’s Association Network (GBUACO), also an affiliate of G-Health. Erie County recently added a zip code feature to its COVID-19 map. So far, one of the largest cluster of cases includes people in 14215, which is the City of Buffalo’s East Side. The outcomes of the community response plan are to improve treatment, reduce mortality, and reduce the burden on the hospitals.

This past Monday, testing vehicles secured  from two health insurers by Dr. Vazquez, set up outside the Urban Family Practice on Jefferson to do testing on Medicaid patients. The staff returned the next day to do  more testing.    The vans will be parked in various other parking lots in the zip codes where positive results have been among the highest. Churches, community centers and other health practices will serve as testing sites going forward.

What G-Health is doing, and the Community Health Center of Buffalo is doing, compliments the testing taking place at the Coles Library.  Last week Urban Family Practice     began testing   people in a tent in the parking lot of its Niagara Street headquarters. It’s scheduled to continue from 9 to 11 a.m. daily                                

If a person experiences any elevated symptoms, home isolation is recommended. Plans are in the works to establish a hotel that will be available to isolate anyone who cannot isolate at home. Included in this plan is clinical support staff to monitor these patients, collaboration with pharmacists to deliver and administer medications, and connecting with social services to offer any resources needed for families during this time.

If any members or patients are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, please download the GBUAHN, GBUACO, or UFP apps to complete a COVID-19 survey or call the nurse triage line at 716-604-0504. 

For more details about G-Health’s Community Response Plan see their advertorial  below