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Annapolis’ Hispanic Community Services Specialist Named Chair of LatinX Vaccine Equity Coalition

| May 31, 2021, 01:00 PM

On Thursday, May 27, 2021, the Mid-Atlantic LatinX Vaccine Equity Coalition (MALVEC) was launched. The coalition is chaired by Laura Gutierrez, Hispanic Community Services Specialist in the Office of Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, and includes partners from Johns Hopkins Medicine, Maryland Latinos Unidos, George Washington University Milken School of Public Health, CASA Maryland/DC/Virginia, and Center of Help as well as member organizations.

The purpose of the group is to find solutions to address health inequity issues in the LatinX and immigrant communities.

The coalition grew out of a Hispanic health outreach initiative (Take Care Annapolis) launched in August of 2020. Under Gutierrez’s direction, the City of Annapolis used CARES Act funding to launch the initiative, aimed at driving down the disproportionately high number of COVID cases in the LatinX community. The effort worked.

Liquified Creative Annapolis

The health outreach initiative was so successful in flattening the curve in the LatinX community, it piqued the interest of other jurisdictions and nonprofits who were facing the same difficulties. In addition, an African American community outreach team supervised by Gutierrez is also identifying inequities in Annapolis communities.

“We began receiving calls from neighboring jurisdictions, who wanted to know what we were doing,” Gutierrez said.”

The work consisted of sending outreach workers into communities to not only educate the public but also to run COVID testing and health clinics at places frequented by Hispanic and African American residents. Most importantly, they conducted a community needs assessment, a survey that addressed the social determinants of health.

“What Laura has done here in Annapolis is becoming a model for a more regional outreach effort, and rightfully so,” said Mayor Buckley. “They showcased how to get into communities and make a difference.”

As the case rate surged over winter, Anne Arundel County added grant funding which gave the team additional capacity. By spring they had turned their efforts to vaccines.

Many grant opportunities to continue program funding are out of reach because Annapolis is small and doesn’t meet the necessary population thresholds. Such funding streams are typically reserved for larger jurisdictions or short-term programs.

“That is why partnering with academic institutions and area nonprofits became critical to the program’s longevity,” Gutierrez said.

The coalition will meet monthly with the goal of launching or expanding the reach of health equity programs in the LatinX communities across the state. In areas where there are no organizations focused on this effort, the coalition will implement a team to canvass, educate and motivate neighbors to get vaccinated.

Severn Bank

Category: COVID, Local News, NEWS

About the Author - EOA Staff

Eye On Annapolis is a community based site focusing strictly on Anne Arundel County. These staff postings are general news postings made by our team of bloggers throughout the day and are not attributed to any one particular staff person.

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