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Community-University Health Care Center Launches Mobile COVID-19 Testing

University of Minnesota Community-University Health Care Center (CUHCC) opened mobile testing for a week at The Cedars. The Minneapolis high-rise is home to a diverse community, many of whom come from low-income and immigrant backgrounds. The Cedars-Riverside neighborhood is one of the hardest hit areas for COVID-19. Resident testing was a joint enterprise with Minnesota Public Housing Authority and Volunteers of America.

CUHCC Chief Clinical Officer Roli Dwivedi, MD, has been heavily involved in the planning for the event.

“Testing at The Cedars is very important, as the only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to test and isolate. We know people of color and minority groups have been greatly impacted by the virus due to structural barriers and inequities. This is our opportunity to bring care to the communities who need it the most," said Dwivedi.

"Several of our members who live at The Cedars are elderly, do not have means of transportation, have mobility issues, and on top of that, have fear around COVID-19. Mobile testing is a way to acknowledge, understand and address the needs of diverse communities. We have the ability to bring care to their doors and help educate,” said Dwivedi.

CUHCC is following the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines for COVID-19 testing for individuals who have attended mass gatherings, which include groups of 10 people or more. The CUHCC team and members from the MDH, Volunteers of America (VOA), interpreters, and Minneapolis Public Housing collaborated together seamlessly.

“It felt like running a mini clinic. Everyone had a common goal of serving the community and was well prepared and eager to help,” said Dwivedi. “The experience at the mobile site has been uplifting. Though the weather has not been very supportive, when you have a great team working together, problems can be solved as they emerge.”

CUHCC nursing staff supervisor Sara Zumbado, RN, has been leading clinical support staff at the test site. Janeth Guerra de Patino led the organizing of the site which featured volunteers from VOA, CUHCC, the Medical Reserve Corps and the City of Minneapolis’ Health Department.

“There is so much coordination that goes into making this type of work happen-- seeing volunteers come together from multiple organizations and all walks of life to provide care has been heartwarming. Our mission at CUHCC is transforming care and education to advance health equity. I love teaching and training staff and educating patients so I am grateful for the opportunity to provide access to care for patients who may not have been able to receive it otherwise,” said Zumbado.

CUHCC will explore COVID-19 testing at other public housing partnerships as well as pop-ups at other social service organizations. 

“I would like to thank our partners for making this event possible, truly bringing health care to the people.  Community health centers are rooted in community and we hope to continue to reach people needing access to COVID-19 testing,” said CUHCC CEO Colleen McDonald Diouf. 

CUHCC continues to offer walk-up and drive up appointments after completion of a virtual phone/video appointment screening daily.       

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