The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequity of health systems around the world, disproportionately impacting people of color, the poor, and historically marginalized communities.
COVID-19’s toll has also forced a reckoning: we are all part of a global network, and until everyone is protected, no one is protected.
PIH Answers the Call
At Partners In Health, we’ve been working alongside community members in hard-hit regions around the world for more than 30 years, seeking to halt deadly disease outbreaks -- from Ebola in West Africa to cholera in Haiti to HIV in Rwanda -- while reinforcing more just and robust public health systems that provide access to care for all.
When COVID-19 spread globally in early 2020, PIH responded to calls for assistance from health ministries, local administrators, and clinicians overwhelmed by this latest health emergency. Since then, we have worked with our partners to help fill crucial gaps, such as:
Strengthening contact tracing in Mexico
Assisting the government of Lesotho in establishing an oxygen plant
Training contact tracers in Navajo Nation
Expanding contact tracing and connection of patients to resources across Massachusetts
Now, as we grapple with surging caseloads around the world, we are assisting with vaccine rollout plans to ensure the equitable distribution of new, lifesaving vaccines, guaranteeing affordability, and accessibility for all.
Join the global movement for a free, accessible COVID-19 vaccine
A Focus on Equity
PIH’s equity-centered approach fuses the pragmatic with the idealistic: we help people in the most need by delivering the highest quality health care and support.
This focus on social justice guides our collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, whose officials asked us to help build a statewide contact tracing program to slow the virus’ spread.
Partnering with local health departments, contact tracers have made hundreds of thousands of calls reaching individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 and their contacts.
Advise cases and contacts on:
Connect them to:
We’ve done this while ensuring care reaches those most in need and hardest hit by the virus, including communities of color, immigrants, and the working poor.Learn more
New U.S. Effort
We believe the COVID-19 crisis offers an inflection point in the United States -- a moment to reimagine what kind of health system everyone needs and deserves, regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code, or income.
To that end, PIH has mobilized and deployed the US Public Health Accompaniment Unit to assist our partners in regions hardest hit by COVID-19. We are currently assisting 17 U.S. sites.
Chicago, ILIn the Chicago region, we are convening and supporting the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnerships Corps, a consortium of more than 100 multi-sector organizations, to help increase community understanding of and access to vaccines. We developed and launched a Speakers Bureau who serve as resources for community-based organizations and grassroots organizations offering vaccine education, town halls, and staff trainings. These trusted messengers receive training on how to address community questions and hesitancy through open dialogue.
Cook County, ILIn Cook County, where COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Latinx and Black communities, we supported the county public health department to strengthen existing health systems, engage local communities, and promote equity across all phases of vaccine rollout, and we supported isolation and quarantine through strengthening care resource coordination efforts.
Fulton County, GASince June 2020, we have partnered with the Fulton County Board of Health and CORE to provide guidance on strategy and operations in case investigation, contact tracing, care resource coordination, and home-based testing initiatives. We trained a cohort of field staff to conduct home visits to cases and contacts who could not be reached by contact tracers to ensure they have the food, personal protective equipment, and hygiene supplies they need to safely isolate. We are also supporting partners in planning for equitable vaccine rollout and developing a school-based testing program in Atlanta public schools.
IllinoisWe began working with the Illinois Department of Health in May 2020 when the Governor’s office requested help after seeing the success of PIH’s contact tracing work in Massachusetts. Since then, we have deepened our work, sharing best practices for care resource coordination, scaling and refining contact tracing across the state, and ensuring equitable vaccine distribution.
Immokalee, FLWe are working with our partners in Immokalee to hire and train community health promoters who conduct household visits to counsel on COVID-19 prevention, testing, transmission, symptoms, isolation, and quarantine, and to connect individuals to resources that address their basic needs. Through these partnerships, we have connected the migrant farmworkers community to vital social supports, including cash transfers for food, utilities, and housing assistance for workers who tested positive for COVID-19. We also collaborated with local partners to host mobile testing events in residential areas, community centers, and with nearby trusted community organizations.
Montgomery, ALWe are partnering with the city of Montgomery and community leaders to launch a new community health worker program, help open a crisis center for unhoused people with COVID-19, and build a communications campaign to address vaccine hesitancy and access. We are also supporting the Mayor’s office in mapping vaccination sites to identify gaps in services and direct resources to ensure higher vaccination rates, promote a free rides programs for individuals with transportation barriers to vaccine sites, and continue engaging with a coalition of local community partners in a “Get Out the Vax” community mobilization campaign.
Navajo NationIn partnership with Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE), we are training and organizing 375+ contact tracers across Navajo Nation. This team assists those in quarantine and isolation access resources like food, water, transport, or medicine as needed. We also helped to develop linguistically and culturally informed training guides and contact tracing workflows, and provided career development opportunities for students at a local public tribal college.
Newark, NJSince April 2020, we have supported the city to monitor and analyze test positivity rates, inform reopening and response policies, and stand up a Care Resource Coordination team to provide support to individuals in isolation and quarantine. We helped the city estimate COVID-19 workforce needs, synthesize equity-driven metrics, and establish a real-time information management system for contact tracing and case investigation. Now, we are supporting the city’s efforts to expand vaccination and bring vaccines directly to residents through static and pop-up sites.
North CarolinaSince May 2020, we have partnered with Community Care of North Carolina to stand up and strengthen the contract tracing and case investigation workforce, while also helping inform state-level guidance to local health departments in partnership with North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. We have also supported NCDHHS care resource coordination efforts, which have reached over 385,000 individuals via community health workers and directly provided social supports to over 38,000 households. Now, we’re partnering with the state to improve vaccine equity with a continued focus on historically marginalized populations and farmworkers.
Pima CountyWe support a number of Pima County Health Department initiatives, including contact tracing, care coordination, and community engagement. We also perform data analysis to help guide decision making and inform local policy, as well as advise on efforts to decentralize vaccine delivery. In collaboration with local CBOs, we are working to ensure Native Americans / Alaska Natives, communities of color, refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, migrants, and individuals experiencing homelessness are all able to get vaccinated. To date, the Care Resource Coordination program has assisted more than 10,000 community members.
New Orleans, LAWe provide strategy and operational support to our partners at CORE to deploy community-based mobile testing units, rotating “static” testing units, and school-based testing units. We support our partners at these sites with resource coordination and evaluating the impact of a new social needs screen tool for individuals who get tested. We are also partnering with CORE to help the New Orleans Department of Public Health to codify and share best practices for an equitable pandemic response, as well as lessons learned in vaccine rollout.
New Bedford, MAIn New Bedford, we are supporting the City’s community vaccination program by focusing on specific segments of the local population, utilizing low-tech tools and local knowledge to reach and assist New Bedford residents who are less likely to receive the vaccine because of barriers like access to technology and English language proficiency. We are also partnering with the New Bedford Health Department’s leadership team to hire, train, and mentor a contact tracer, an epidemiologist, and multilingual community liaisons.
Our 16 locations:
- Chicago, IL
- The State of Illinois
- Cook County, IL
- Fulton County, GA
- Immokalee, FL
- Montgomery, AL
- Navajo Nation
- Newark, NJ
- The State of North Carolina
- Pima County, AZ
- New Orleans, LA
- New Bedford, MA
To bolster this approach, we’ve built a Resource Library for public health officials, policy makers, and community leaders to access a range of resources, new research, and data that capture PIH and partners’ lessons learned. And our Learning Collaborative is a growing community across 30 states who meet regularly to share and develop best practices in this fluid and fast-changing landscape.Learn More
Led by medical expertise and compassion, we are accompanying our colleagues through one of the most dire public health challenges of our time. Yet we have good reason to remain hopeful; we’ve been here before and can see the path forward. Based on this experience, our COVID-19 response is built on four main pillars:
1. Protect patients, communities, and staff against COVID-19 through the initiation of safe testing, triage, and isolation at PIH-supported health facilities;
2. Provide dignified, high-quality treatment for people with COVID-19, and all patients at PIH-supported facilities;
3. Accompany public sector colleagues in their response at each care delivery site and advocate for long-term health systems funding globally and equitable vaccine distribution;
4. Mobilize strong contact tracing systems with local partners or via PIH’s network of skilled community health workers.
Support Our Response
More On PIH’s COVID Response
Delivering Lifesaving Mental Health Care In Peru During COVID-19
Socios En Salud, as Partners In Health is known in Peru, has helped more than 111,500 patients access mental health care amid COVID-19.
In Mexico, PIH Team Fights Misinformation Around COVID-19 Vaccines
Even as COVID-19 surged in Chiapas in July, many vaccination centers were empty, due to misinformation about the vaccines—a reality that Compañeros En Salud is determined to change.