Health equity stories you may have missed – August 2021

Health equity stories you may have missed – August 2021

Perhaps one of the biggest issues that has come to light during the COVID-19 pandemic is equity. The healthcare sector, private industry and nonprofits are now addressing equity in a variety of ways.

It was reported that life expectancy in the United States dropped by an average of 1.5 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the largest drop since World War II. But life expectancy for Hispanic and Black people in the US dropped by 3 and 2.9 years respectively, highlighting the disparities that exist within the US. According to the New York Times, these inequities are “a reflection of many factors, including the differences in overall health and available health care between white, Hispanic and Black people in the United States.”  

To address disparities among vaccination rates in Massachusetts, Eastern Bank recently donated $2 million to support last mile vaccination efforts among populations with the highest incidences of COVID-19 cases, according to the Boston Business Journal.

 While the Delta variant is a cause for concern, the pandemic is causing worry among health experts for non-COVID-19 related illness. National studies show that 1 in 5 adults delayed medical care for serious health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic with a majority of these individuals reporting negative health consequences related to the delay. Many providers are seeing massive declines in visit volume and preventative screenings including cancer screenings, depression screenings, weight and nutrition counseling, and high blood pressure control. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center president and CEO Manny Lopes discussed how these delays in care are causing the “Covid Cliff” on Boston 25.

 The Boston Foundation recently released its report, Health Starts at Home, which evaluated how housing instability impacts overall health. In an interview with WBUR, Stefanie Shull said that findings from the report showed “housing stability meant less illness.” This included modest improvement in child health, reduced visits to the emergency room and reductions in anxiety and depression among caregivers.

Supporting the efforts of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Supporting the efforts of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Governor Baker holds press conference after touring East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s vaccination clinic at Oceanside Events in Revere.

As we turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, we take a moment to reflect on some of the important work we’ve done over the past 15 months. At Greenough Brand Storytellers  we have had the honor of working alongside many clients who have played extraordinary roles in saving and improving lives during the pandemic.  

For example, when COVID-19 was first reported, it was Thermo Fisher Scientific who immediately launched a test to detect the virus, now available in 175 countries worldwide. Home-based medical care provider Prospero Health quickly invested in virtual technology to continue to care for vulnerable, chronically ill patients.  


EBNHC president and CEO Manny Lopes is interviewed on MSNBC in April 2020

And right here in our local community, I have been proud to support the work of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) in helping hundreds of thousands of people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  It was a monumental effort and an important story worth telling.  

As the first surge raged through the northeast, Chelsea was featured in national headlines as one of the hardest hit communities per capita in the country. Like East Boston, Chelsea is a highly populated, dense city that is home to a large immigrant population, many of whom live in multi-family dwellings and who work in essential, front-line healthcare roles. EBNHC president and CEO Manny Lopes was interviewed on national broadcast news to discuss the health disparities the community faced and the stark inequities that the pandemic exposed.  

EBNHC launched the first drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Suffolk Downs and several other public testing sites in East Boston and surrounding communities. Throughout the summer, as tensions over racial justice escalated around the country and demonstrations were held in Boston, EBNHC worked with the City of Boston to stand up pop-up testing sites in COVID-19 hotspots. In total, to-date, EBNHC has processed more than 130,000 COVID-19 tests. The Boston Globe shared the perspective of the “swabbers.”   

Beyond healthcare, it became clear that the communities served by EBNHC were suffering from joblessness and food insecurity. EBNHC’s Community Resource and Wellness Center provided much needed services such as guidance on how to stay in one’s home under the State’s eviction moratorium and by providing food each week through a partnership with the Red Cross 

Dr. Jaime Gallegos of EBNHC

EBNHC’s Dr. Jaime Gallegos was the first person in Massachusetts to receive the Moderna vaccine.

On December 21, 2020, Dr. Jaime Gallegos of EBNHC was the first person in Massachusetts to receive the Moderna vaccine, expressing “relief” after receiving the injection. He would later play a crucial role in educating the community about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines by hosting town halls and webinars with multiple government and community partners.  

The lessons that EBNHC learned through its robust COVID-19 testing efforts were then applied to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, prioritizing equity.  

In order to open vaccine clinics, EBNHC realized it needed the three “S’s:” Supply, Space and Staff. The state and federal government provided the supply of COVID-19 vaccines. EBNHC opened four brick-and-mortar vaccination clinics in easily accessible, familiar locations in the South End, Chelsea, East Boston and Revere. And at the sites in East Boston and Revere, the State provided members of the National Guard to administer the vaccines  

Ramelfo Frometa received a COVID-19 vaccine at EBNHC’s clinic in Chelsea, MA

EBNHC also partnered with other organizations to meet the needs of the community. The staff worked with Last Mile Vaccine Delivery and Get Out the Vax (GOTVax) to create pop-up sites in neighborhoods where the vaccination rates were low. They also worked with major employers in food processing and with school districts such as Revere to vaccinate teachers and students. They collaborated on “Mobile Vax” with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Care. Partnerships with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Lyft also came together. EBNHC partnered with community organizations like La Colaborativa in Chelsea to engage and educate residents. COO and senior vice president Gregory Wilmot spearheaded the effort to bring these partners together and get the community vaccinated quickly and effectively.  

At Greenough, our goal was to share up-to-date, factual information that would resonate with the community. We made it a priority to reach out to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking media to share story angles that would reassure community-members of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. We placed several stories in UnivisionTelemundoEl MundoEl Planeta and others. We had providers grace the front page of the Boston Globe four times over the past year. The leadership of Manny Lopes was recognized in a profile in the Boston Business Journal and he became one of Boston’s Most Influential People according to Boston Magazine. Additionally, EBNHC was featured on NBC National News for its efforts on vaccine equity.  

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren made her first public appearance since the pandemic started at EBNHC’s vaccination clinic in Chelsea, MA.

The work of EBNHC was recognized by our elected officials. Governor Baker toured three of the four brick-and-mortar sites, noting in his press conference that Manny was on a path towards, “world domination.” Senator Elizabeth Warren made her first public appearance since the pandemic started at the vaccination clinic in Chelsea. Senator Ed Markey, Representative Ayanna PressleyAttorney General Maura Healey, District Attorney Rachael Rollins and many other local leaders visited the vaccination clinics. And even President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden sent 800 commemorative Easter Eggs to EBNHC to thank the staff for their tireless work.  

To date, EBNHC has administered 80,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Health Center has vaccinated more than 90% of its staff. By the end of April, the number of Latinx people vaccinated in East Boston was double that of Caucasians. But most impressive is that state data released in mid-May showed that the highest rate of Latinx vaccinations were in East Boston, Chelsea and Revere, a testament to EBNHC’s efforts.  

After serving these communities for 50 years, EBNHC was perfectly poised to do this work. In addition to the leadership of Manny Lopes and Gregory Wilmot, we must also recognize Steven Snyder and Brett Phillips for their unrelenting work to ensure that EBNHC’s message was getting out there. We are grateful to have been there in partnership to support the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s heroic efforts.  

Maria Kucinski

Maria Kucinski

Vice President

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Feel Good Stories You Might Have Missed – Feb. 2021

Feel Good Stories You Might Have Missed – Feb. 2021

The emergency approval of two coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. marks the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is working to get shots into the arms of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents and save lives in Massachusetts. EBNHC’s story is one of love for one’s community – CEO Manny Lopes worked at EBNHC as a college student and returned to lead the organization in time for the biggest public health crisis of the 21st century. “We’re going to have to redefine the new normal,” Lopes said to the Boston Business Journal, and EBNHC is looking forward to being a part of the solution.

While there is hope for a new normal, remote work appears to be here to stay for at least the next few months. It has had its skeptics, but, because of remote work, many businesses have discovered the importance of empathy, flexibility and strong company culture. Workhuman CEO Eric Mosley outlines different ways that workplaces have changed for the better in the past year in a conversation with Thrive Global. Human connection is something that many employees used to take for granted. Now, seeking it, employees are quicker to support a struggling colleague or offer congratulations for a job well done.

The past year has also been one of exploration. The WBUR podcast Anything for Selena seeks to understand the complex cultural legacy of Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Maria Garcia, who hosts the podcast, spoke to The New York Times about how Selena’s story mirrors her own and what she learned from this project. For Garcia, Selena represents finding clarity about her own identity: “There was this tension between these two parts of me, and to see somebody who embodied both of those parts fully in the States and in Mexico, who traversed the two countries without code switching, who was the same person on both sides of the border — I’d never seen anything like that.”

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Key lessons we learned from nonprofit partners in 2020

Key lessons we learned from nonprofit partners in 2020

It is no secret that 2020 had a profound impact on every aspect of life. Businesses were impacted in numerous ways from transitioning to a remote workforce overnight to facing supply chain issues. Nonprofit organizations faced many challenges, and yet they emerged from 2020 resilient.

Here are a few key takeaways we learned through our work with nonprofit organizations in 2020: 

  1. The need was great

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Massachusetts in February, many nonprofits faced unprecedented challenges. Human services organizations who hosted daily programs as part of their earned revenue were forced to bring them online via zoom. Homeless shelters and group homes were forced to depopulate and find alternative living accommodations. Food pantries saw an immediate increased need. Health care organizations needed funding for PPE and hazard pay. Public media saw its underwriting pipeline dry up overnight as small businesses slashed their marketing budgets. Immigrants rights organizations had to support a community with no other safety net. Museums were forced to close. School programs were brought online.

  1. Donors stepped up

Yet despite these challenges and the tireless work of nonprofit staff and volunteers, donors saw that need and stepped up. One nonprofit board came together to provide a significant bridge fund to carry the organization through the pandemic. Another organization created a unique fundraising campaign, raising $1.2 million, a number that exceeded its goal by 50%. Across organizations, when the ask was made, donors matched or exceeded goals.

  1. Virtual fundraisers were a success

Although a livestreamed gala or a virtual 5K pales in comparison to an in-person event, we found that nonprofits were successfully substituting their community events with virtual ones. As mentioned above, donors attended the events, paying full ticket price in some cases, bid on the silent auction items and exuded generosity with the fund-a-need appeals. Each organization had a different approach to their virtual fundraisers, but those whose events were authentic and true to the mission of the organization were the most memorable.

  1. There are needs beyond Covid-19

The urgent and increased needs brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic do not eliminate the needs the organizations were facing prior to the pandemic. Those needs remain ongoing and it’s important to remember that these organizations serve our communities in crucial ways, caring for our most vulnerable, screening for health conditions, supplying important information to the public, providing cultural and educational resources, among others. As we look ahead, we hope everyone remains committed to supporting nonprofit organizations with a renewed spirit beyond the pandemic.  


Feel Good Stories You Might Have Missed – Feb. 2021

Business stories you may have missed – December 2020

As we begin to navigate these dark, cold months, it appears there is a now a light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel. Businesses continue to navigate the “new normal” and to press on in light of mounting challenges. Here are some news stories that touch on the current ethos.

Although the vaccine is on the horizon, accessing to Covid-19 testing is still imperative. Thermo Fisher Scientific’s The Just Project is providing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) with diagnostic instruments, test kits and related supplies to enable free on-campus testing throughout the 2020-21 school year. Thermo Fisher’s Fred Lowery describes the need to support HBCU’s in an essay in the World Economic Forum.

Remote work and remote school have made households more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Arbella Insurance recently expanded its cyber insurance protection to the state of Connecticut. Agency Checklists described the new homeowners’ policy endorsements.

Streaming TV has been a mainstay since the start of the pandemic and Netflix scored another major win with its new Selena series. WBUR’s Maria Garcia shared her insights on the legacy of the late artist and representation of the Latinx community on NPR’s 1A.  

The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center was named a Top Place to Work by the Boston Globe for the sixth time! The annual feature included a write-up on how EBNHC is supporting its staff serving on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic and a piece featuring commentary from CEO and president Manny Lopes on how the workplace has changed.  

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