COVID-19 mitigation for high-risk populations in Springfield Massachusetts USA: a health systems approach

Author Department

Medicine; Patient Care Services; Infectious Diseases

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: Numerous reports have demonstrated the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on vulnerable populations. Our purpose is to describe our health care system's response to this impact.

Methods: We convened a Workgroup with the goal to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the most medically vulnerable people in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, particularly those with significant social needs. We did this through (1) identifying vulnerable patients in high-need geographic areas, (2) developing and implementing a needs assessment/outreach tool tailored to meet cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds, (3) surveying pharmacies for access to medication delivery, (4) gathering information about sources of food delivery, groceries and/or prepared food, (5) gathering information about means of travel, and (6) assessing need for testing. We then combined these six elements into a patient-oriented branch and a community outreach/engagement branch.

Conclusions: Our highly intentional and methodical approach to patient and community outreach with a strong geographic component has led to fruitful efforts in COVID-19 mitigation. Our patient-level outreach engages our health centers' clinical teams, particularly community health workers, and is providing the direct benefit of material and service resources for our at-risk patients and their families. Our community efforts leveraged existing relationships and created new partnerships that continue to inform us-healthcare entities, healthcare employees, and clinical teams-so that we can grow and learn in order to authentically build trust and engagement.

Keywords: COVID 19; Community Outreach; Inequalities, health care; Needs Assessment, Healthcare; Populations, vulnerable; Risk factors.