2_Partners

2. Identify and Mobilize Your Partners

Importance of partners

Consideration

OSCTCs may need to think outside of the box and explore additional partnerships to meet the needs of their communities.

Voices from the Field

“We no longer can be siloed. We have to have a partnership. We have to be a family of resources for everyone in our communities …we have to band together … looking at it through the lens of what each organization does well.”
“If you are a hospital or hospital network and you are not connected with healthcare coalitions or with your local groups in the county that have resources, you need to do so immediately…”
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Existing networks and partners

Consideration

Tap into existing networks as they can be easily mobilized and offer valuable insight and connections to support access to testing.

Voices from the Field

“I will give [state] a ton of credit for this quick and easy access we have to all of these networks [State Public Health Department, Visiting Nurse Association, Hospital Association, EMS, Public Health networks, and Integrated Delivery Networks]. Almost everybody is just a phone call away on a first name basis.”
“We were able to pivot because we already had a lot of these Social Services in place throughout the county because of our high need, so it's kind of an ironic thing that because of the disparity [here] I think we probably had a strong foundation to be able to respond to this emergency”
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Neutral conveners and integrators

Consideration

Community foundations may act as conveners to bring diverse partners together to meet community needs.

Voices from the Field

“Many communities have stellar research institutions, community foundations, and federally qualified health centers and it's a constellation that might really support local public health efforts”
“…it does require having someone who can be a bridge between both to help accelerate things at the speed that I think COVID requires. I think if we were all functioning like, oh, we want to explore whether we want to do this together, we can take our time and make business plans etc., but we don't have the luxury of that so you need integrators, I think, to step in and help these kinds of partnerships to form and to build trust and there had been, also, some issues in the past.”
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Department of Public Health

Consideration

Departments of Public Health provide leadership, guidance, and support for OSCTCs.

Voices from the Field

“Be very mindful of working very closely with their respective Department of Public Health.”

Federal Government

Consideration

HHS can provide extensive resources to hard hit sites.

Voices from the Field

“HHS has been an absolutely fantastic partner. They've been supporting us since the beginning, and they are partnering with us along the way in terms of helping us with site selection.”
“We have been fortunate to partner very well with the feds…they have provided support to create access points for people who can’t access testing.”
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National Guard

Consideration

The National Guard is frequently viewed as a strong partner; however, some communities may be uncomfortable attending a testing event staffed by persons in military uniform.

Voices from the Field

“National Guard, which is an absolute lifesaver here”
“The National Guard has such a great set-up … they did reconnaissance and … when it opened, our site was tight. I do have to give great credit to them because wait times were really very short around an average of fifteen minutes.”
“Our National Guard has been fantastic on being able to fill positions with bodies, resources, and equipment to be able to help us and just be as nimble as we needed them to be”
“It broke also that the governor is sending army people in uniform to predominantly African American public housing structures to test them, so you can imagine the challenge that arose, right? …we wanted to be very sensitive to that and to the National Guard thing… it is a rightfully very appropriate sensitivity … in the name of public health, doing really bad things to the most vulnerable members of our community.”
“Part of negotiating with the National Guard and was listen, okay, you guys want to wear uniform I get it… it's important for the commander to understand that they need to augment the civilians rather than run their own show.”
“…because of that history, that bringing in National Guard troops to do testing would not necessarily be welcomed by either the Latinx Community or by the African American Community with it harkening back to the Civil Rights Movement.”
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Governors and elected officials

Consideration

Governors may expedite the startup of testing centers and offer assistance procuring supplies.

Voices from the Field

“I have heard that before that getting Governor involved is very effective.  The Governor is on the phone, press conference the next day and then things are going.”
“If you can get your state and elected officials to champion your efforts that will definitely push traffic towards your testing event, and also gives a sense of validity to what you're doing and saying.”
“I met with the Governor one day [regarding] supplies and he literally flew on his helicopter to [town], … and he sent one of his staff to the lab … to physically get swabs, and get them on the helicopter”
“The Governor actually came to our building and did a press conference that was on TV.  A press conference is a good idea.“
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Local leaders

Consideration

Local leaders can champion OSCTC efforts.

Voices from the Field

“If we could do anything different, it would be … earlier on, having a really close relationship with our state and municipal contacts”
“…municipalities at all levels….[are] partners not only in designating certain specific populations to be tested but also in terms of provision of resources that our municipalities and departments have available that can support the social determinants side of our assessments.”
“The local leaders are who will be your champions on the ground”
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Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Consideration

EMS providers can be helpful acquiring materials, managing the logistics of the testing center, and leveraging their existing connections to support OSCTCs.

Voices from the Field

“The fire department and the office of emergency management are really good at logistics. I mean, they are at the very front end and they're the ones who helped find tents. Literally in 24 hours they had tents, generators, mobile things, fridge…”
“A lot of our EMS programs are tied in our mobile integrated health programs.”
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Volunteers

Consideration

Existing volunteer organizations and networks can be leveraged to support OSCTCs; however, some OSCTCs reported challenges related to frequent training of new volunteers.

Voices from the Field

“There are these groups out here that already have volunteers and they can connect to them through their local emergency management office… these volunteer organizations are nonprofits that have lots of volunteers that are ready and willing to work. Volunteers to help with paperwork and sorting of data, before, during and after people were tested.
“We had volunteers that were assigned to us from the state and that has worked well for scheduling the testing. It did not work as well doing the testing…we had people who retired, or we had people that had backgrounds in healthcare that were assigned to us to help us with the testing piece, but it was not effective assistance. So, every day, there was a different volunteer. That was not helpful.”
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Visiting Nurse Associations (VNAs)

Consideration

VNAs can be mobilized to support persons who cannot leave their homes.

Voices from the Field

“…we also partnered up with all of our VNA agencies across the state. So if we had folks who were homebound and couldn't make it to any of our testing sites … we partnered up and train our VNA agencies to … go in to do the testing for us almost like a true one-on-one testing for individuals who couldn’t leave their homes.”

Boards of Pharmacy​

Consideration

State Boards of Pharmacy may provide valuable resources for community pharmacies offering testing.

Voices from the Field

“Boards of Pharmacy … will publish publicly available documents that outline a checklist, if you are setting up testing in your pharmacy, this is what you need to do: step one, step two, step three. They've actually outlined it and then they have even had different models. They would say if you're doing a point-of-care this is what you should do. If you are doing the swab and send, then this is what you should do.”

Philanthropists​

Consideration

Philanthropic donors can fill capacity gaps by standing up their own testing sites, or partnering with existing sites to increase their capacity, reach, sustainability, and even in some cases OSCTC credibility.

Health centers can leverage existing connections with philanthropists to gain funds for COVID-19 testing.

Voices from the Field

“We're helping fill a capacity gap at the state level. We've been really, really trying to engage the state along every step of the way here but, you know, the state is resource constrained and the state has, while they've endorse what we do they, sort of, have told us of to run with it”.
“The public health department was so strapped and just trying to understand what was happening and that we were going to need some additional resources just to marshal a public health infrastructure and an approach to testing tracing and isolation. And so, I started raising money for additional people and resources to support our local public health system.”
“Look at your for-profit companies in the area and see how can they help support what you are doing and how you can partner with them. When we partner with those larger companies…it also gives a certain prestige to our testing capabilities”
“Our philanthropy office worked- you know they were reaching out to different big donors”
“A couple that lives in county and has some sort of business initially donated tens of thousands of pieces of units of PPE to us”
“Our philanthropy office [gathered a] group of administrators and clinicians together to just talk about COVID and populations at risk… our big concern at that time was homeless patients who live in congregate settings ... We didn't have enough resources to actually have the time to go down and test … so they funded I think about $2 million for the van.”
“We got a lot of philanthropy in the beginning. We brought in about 1.8 million in philanthropy and with that we were able to cover all the cost of all the tests and all the personnel. So, we never billed anybody for anything…”
“It was never a priority to have some type of a development team. But now we are seeing that need.... Once we develop the team, we have to identify donors, [and] build the brand out to entice these donors to want to funnel money in and so it's something that is still in the pipeline….”
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Places of worship

Consideration

Places of worship can be trusted conduits of information around testing.

Churches can also mobilize volunteers and may have space to host a testing site.

Voices from the Field

“…the [name] Baptist Church, which is a great example of the organization that you can achieve when you partner with church groups. They would bring people in 30 to 40-minute waves....”
“We have been partnering with local houses of worship… they also give food distribution, so they have been telling clients to just stop in and at the same time get tested.”
“We've had a lot of success using churches as testing event sites where they're reaching out in their community to do testing.”
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Social justice groups and community organizations

Consideration

Seek out and build trust with social justice groups and other community organizations that understand the community you want to test.

Voices from the Field

“[We are] looking to some of the already formed social justice groups, specifically who are in touch with the Latinx community, saying what we are doing wrong and how we can help communicate with the Latinx population”
“The state is contracting with several nonprofits to try to then subcontract with ethnically based community organizations to use community health workers to do outreach and education … all kinds of cultural barriers not only language but the belief that they are immune to the infection…. And fear getting tested because they will get locked up for 14 days, and they can't work, and they can’t feed their kids. Understandably, so lots and lots of barriers and the testing rates are pretty low right now those communities, even while the infection rates are high.”
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