Located along the Crenshaw Corridor, the historic center of African-American life in Los Angeles, stands West Angeles Church, a pillar in the community. In a pre-COVID world, West Angeles Church has been proud to bring together its congregation for worship throughout the week, special events, and community-building opportunities. Since the start of the pandemic, those services have been moved online. However, with vaccine distribution expanding, there’s a glimmer of hope that those onsite events will soon return.
The partnership between West Angeles Church and Curative initially began when Lisa Garrett, one of the church’s members, who also worked in human resources for the County, introduced the idea of a vaccination clinic on site. Curative is committed to increasing health equity, and one of the key components of that journey is building confidence in healthcare, which aids vaccine efficacy for eradicating COVID-19. By partnering with church leaders, we had a direct opportunity to make vaccinations more accessible for the Crenshaw neighborhood.
Ten days before launching, we met with church leadership. The initial plan was for a single-day event with a follow-up for second doses. 800 emails were sent to eligible congregation members with a link to register for an appointment. Additionally, a robocall was set up to make signups more accessible for eligible older populations. However, the most successful method of getting sign-ups was through word-of-mouth, where once congregation members learned about the opportunity, they eagerly told family and friends. Utilizing that natural phone tree allowed people to feel confident that other community members were also getting vaccinated.
West Angeles Church also incorporated testimonies from doctors within the congregation throughout their outreach efforts that eased potential vaccine hesitancy. After the success witnessed at the launch event, the West Angeles Church team requested a recurring partnership! We now host vaccination clinics regularly on Sundays, moving closer and closer to the goal of one day reuniting in person.
“As pastor of West Angeles Church, we have been honored to be a vaccination clinic site for Covid-19 vaccines to the community. In collaboration with Curative and Los Angeles County Department of Health, West Angeles Church, we are been proud to be a part of this great venture. It has been a joy to interact with not only our church members who have not been able to worship at the West Angeles Cathedral for over a year, but also with the community at large. We look forward to continuing to assist in this monumental effort.”
–Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr.
Senior Pastor, West Angeles Church
This project allowed us to better serve the Black community, which has been historically underserved by health resources. According to UCLA Health, data shows that Black Americans are dying of COVID-19 infection at disproportionately high rates. In Milwaukee County, for example, nearly three-quarters of COVID deaths were Black, with Black people representing only about a quarter of the county’s population. Additional data from New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, and New York show similar racial imbalances.
The health issues that make Black people more susceptible to severe COVID-19 reactions are the result of structural injustice and systemic racism. Increased medical distrust in the Black community has historical roots, including the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and the use of Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells for medical research without the required consent. In an effort to build the community’s trust, we are committed to working within neighborhoods to best meet their needs while relying on local experts to guide our practice.
As we move forward, we are continuing to seek new and better ways to address legacies of injustice through partnership, innovation, and understanding.