Venice Family Clinic Receiving More Vaccines, Pushing For Equity

March 15, 2021

Originally published on Patch – March 15, 2021

Venice Family Clinic is receiving more vaccines this week as the clinic pushes to vaccinate more low-income and minority patients on the Westside — but it’s still not enough.

The clinic anticipated receiving 600 vaccines, now 400 more this week, Anita Zamora at Venice Family Clinic told Patch. Health care workers have also begun outreach to unhoused locals with mobile teams working to vaccinate people living on the streets, out of their cars or transient between housing.

The clinic has had a low volume of vaccines so far, only finding out just one to two days before the doses are available.

“We’re putting a lot of energy into scrambling, calculating and recalculating,” Zamora said in late February during a virtual talk on equity and the urgent need to provide more vaccines to low-income, Black and Latino residents on the Westside.

As of Monday, the number of people eligible for shots in Los Angeles County increased to include people with underlying health conditions and transportation workers.

The Westside clinic has at least 7,000 more people who are eligible based on underlying health conditions alone, Zamora said. Transportation workers are also patients in the clinic, but it’s unclear how many will attempt to get vaccinated through the clinic.

“Venice Family Clinic was founded because of lack of accessible care,” Zamora said. “It’s for people who have lack of access to internet, food, health care that helps them.”

Although MegaPOD sites are important in the process across the county, it’s not necessarily helpful for elderly or low-income patients who rely on services and medical attention from community clinics, including Venice Family Clinic, she added.

Some people might not drive themselves or need help arranging a ride.

“One day or same-day notice isn’t giving them the best access to the vaccine,” Zamora said.

The clinic vaccinates 10,000 people each year for the flu, she said.

They’re ready to vaccinate more people — they just need the doses.

As Blue Shield takes over the process to help vaccinate Californians the clinic is worried their patients with lack of experience or access to technology will go unvaccinated.

“We are very concerned about it,” Zamora said. “We have not received information we need to know how to adequately participate and it does not seem there is a big effort to contact community health cares in California.”

“We think community health cares really need to be prioritized,” she said. “To not know how we fit into that and if there’s even less vaccine coming, we are very worried about this vaccination.”

The clinic has been part of the Westside community serving people in Venice, Santa Monica, Culver City and adjacent neighborhoods for more 50 years.

“We’ve seen it coming,” she said. “We know from our 50-year history that we are the primary, sometimes the only.”

The clinic serves 27,000 patients and about 2,200 are 65 years old and older. Often, it’s the only line of help for people struggling with health problems.

Many of the early doses they received in February — about 1,000 doses — were allocated to health care workers. This leaves a gap in equity for some of the most vulnerable.

“It’s not nearly enough,” Zamora said.