As Kansas City’s essential hospital, University Health (UH) is dedicated to providing academic medicine for all. For the past several years, UH’s Community Health Strategies and Innovation (CHSI) team has focused on developing strong relationships with Kansas City’s faith and community leaders in an effort to connect vulnerable Kansas Citians with quality care. CHSI is a relatively small team but effective team led by Senior Director Hayat Abdullahi. Before the pandemic, its most visible program was the Healthy Harvest Mobile Market that delivered fresh fruit, vegetables, and nutrition education to Kansas City’s food deserts.
In March of 2020, the CHSI team switched gears, relying on its dynamic relationships with community leaders to distribute fact-based, easy to understand information about COVID-19 spread, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. “It was very important to let the community know that we care enough to reach people who don’t have the resources or trust to get accurate information anywhere else,” said Niki Donawa, University Health Chief Community Relations Officer.
From information, to testing, and then eventually the COVID-19 vaccine, the CHSI team proved to be trusted leaders in the battle against COVID-19. The team hit the streets, popping into businesses along the KC Streetcar line to offer vaccination information to small business owners. It set up a vaccine clinic near the Power and Light District to make the vaccine convenient for hosts and servers, bartenders and valet drivers who are work evenings and weekends. It knocked on shops and restaurant doors along Troost Avenue to answer vaccine questions. “Our approach was to start a conversation. We weren’t out to convince anyone to roll up their sleeves,” said Donawa. “The team listened to people’s fears and offered science-based data.”
While it pivoted to protect during the pandemic, the CHSI team continues to offer the education programs and partnerships that empower individuals to take charge of their health and develop healthy lifestyles. For more information, please visit universityhealthkc.org.