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Community Spotlight: MedNorth works in marginalized communities to ensure health care for all

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 2:20 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Minorities seem to be falling behind when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, but a nonprofit healthcare provider is working to make sure they don’t miss their chance.

MedNorth isn’t your average primary healthcare provider; they’re much more.

“We have podiatry, dentistry; we do women’s health, and of course family medicine,” said Israel Mendez, PA-C.

Even that doesn’t quite cover what the staff offers to their patients. From behavioral health to pediatrics, MedNorth has its patients covered. Doctors accept both the insured and uninsured and have fluent Spanish-speaking providers available. Doctors offer a bit of comfort to the patients, letting them know they’re in a place where people understand.

“Coming from a state association, I felt that there was a need for me to work directly with patients,” said Sharon Brown-Singleton, director of clinical operations. “This is where I grew up in this population, being under-served, uninsured.”

For that reason, it’s almost personal for staff members to take care of marginalized communities. That only became more important as the pandemic hit and vaccines started to roll out, and minorities weren’t getting in line for their dose.

“Religious reasons — meaning their pastor may have told them ‘not a good idea to get vaccinated,’ uncertainty about the vaccine since it’s emergency use authorization,” said Brown-Singleton. “Side effects are some of the concerns that we’re hearing.”

That’s why MedNorth is not just in the office to take questions, they’re in the neighborhoods that need answers the most.

“We’ve partnered with the housing authority here in New Hanover County to offer three big events that are upcoming end of May and the beginning of June,” said Brown-Singleton. “We’re going to target some of the historically marginalized housing in New Hanover County.”

MedNorth has several vaccination events coming up in Wilmington Housing Authority neighborhoods:

  • Friday, May 21: Creekwood South, 2-5 p.m.
  • Friday, June 4: Rankin Terrace, 2-5 p.m.
  • Friday, June 11: Houston Moore, 2-5 p.m.

“Something amazing we’re doing as well is we have a list of patients who are not as mobile and can’t leave their homes and eventually going to meet them at their house and vaccinate,” said Mendez.

MedNorth’s efforts have made a difference. Statistics show that MedNorth is one of the top providers in the area when it comes to reaching minorities with 40 percent of its first vaccine doses going to the community’s historically marginalized populations.

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