KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County health leaders are taking a hard look at health inequities in the county's East side.
County legislators on Monday adopted a proposal for a project called Our Healthy KC Eastside, which will use about $5 million in CARES Act funding to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and health care inequities in some of the county's most vulnerable areas.
Truman Medical Centers/University Health, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Black Health Care Coalition will lead the communitywide effort.
While researching for the project, officials looked at several socioeconomic factors, such as income, housing, minority status and transportation, to determine the county's most socially vulnerable zip codes.
They include: 64106, 64109, 64127, 64128, 64129 and 64130.
They also are the areas where COVID-19 vaccination rates are the lowest in the county.
Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton, director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute, said the project goes well beyond COVID-19 vaccines.
"We’re really trying to find those people who would otherwise slip through the cracks and may not have access to health care services," Berkley-Patton said.
The project, according to Berkley-Patton, will allow officials to dig deep into the causes of health inequities in these areas.
"We want to understand maternal health and child health," Berkley-Patton said, "and are parents getting the assistance that they need? And what kind of programs are effective in helping them to make decisions to do the things that they need to do to ensure that their family is healthy?"
TMC/University Health and UMKC will work with businesses, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations and youth organizations to get resources into the community.
Rev. John Modest Miles with Morningstar Baptist Church said a project of this scale is needed as demand for vaccines declines.
"We are still pleading for those persons that have not been vaccinated, will you come and be vaccinated," Miles said. "With this kind of help and care, it will help make a difference and help them to be able to look forward to a greater future."