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Healthcare Network COVID-19 response team serves Immokalee community

When the coronavirus first affected the community in Immokalee, farm workers suffered.

“The COVID test result rates, positivity rates, were quite high,” said Julie Pedretti, the COVID-19 community relations director with Healthcare Network.

There were transportation issues, language barriers and a lack of safe places in the beginning of the pandemic, and health care leaders don’t want a repeat.

“We know that farm workers are returning in fairly large numbers over the next few weeks, so we want to be there for them,” Pedretti said.

It all starts with a knock.

Healthcare Network is deploying its COVID-19 response team to Immokalee to increase support for the community during the pandemic.

According to Health Network, the response team allows it to expand its existing COVID-19 programs to include increased testing, education and community outreach. The response team was made possible through a federal grant awarded by Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).

Now, members of the Healthcare Network’s COVID-19 response team go door-to-door, sharing COVID-19 information and giving out free masks. It’s something Immokalee community members say helps raise awareness.

“It could not be better,” Immokalee resident Overdieu Duvernior said in Spanish and was translated to English. “This is more attention on precautions and on the second wave.”

Pedretti said the proactive plan goes even further, with pop-up testing along the way.

“We can do testing anywhere, so we’re ramping that up,” Pedretti said.

The COVID-19 response team is made up of several health care leaders, including Florida the Department of Health in Collier County, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, FSU
College of Medicine and the Healthcare Network.

Immokalee isn’t the only community Healthcare Network’s COVID-19 response team will visit. Organizers said team members will travel to any underserved area that invites them, including schools, churches and community centers. They also have staff who speak several different languages, including Spanish and Creole.

“The model is around making connections with people,” Pedretti said. “This trust that’s developed helps them feel comfortable with the information that you’re providing, and in the end, it makes for a healthier community.”

The COVID-19 Resource Line is available by phone at 239-675-7080 or by email at [email protected].

MORE: Healthcare Network – COVID-19 Updates and Information

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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