By Jessica Cerda
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the team at WestCare Texas San Antonio forged great partnerships to save lives and provide relief in the face of disparities and disenfranchisement in the Eastside neighborhood and neighboring lower-socioeconomic ranked zip codes where WestCare is based. Local statistics showed that low-income Hispanic and African American communities were being hit the hardest by COVID-19. In addition, community members were struggling to acquire basic resources such as disinfectant cleaning supplies, masks, and hand sanitizers that were in short supply at the time.
Donations of blood and convalescent plasma were at an all-time low, so we partnered with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center to bring their mobile unit to the community for the first time since the pandemic began in order to collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma donations from the demographic who needed it the most. These ongoing blood drives helped to provide life-saving plasma for many in San Antonio, Bexar County, and South Texas.
“At the time, COVID-19 convalescent plasma was the only thing helping people who were critically ill recover from COVID-19. Our goal was to save lives but also help nurture a practice among community members to give blood on a regular basis.”-Beverly Watts-Davis, Senior Vice President of WestCare Texas
The WestCare Community Blood Drive and Drive-Thru Resource Fair has evolved to provide many more healthcare and community services that are free and open to the public. This October, WestCare partnered with the San Antonio Police Officers Association to sponsor a fall pumpkin patch complete with a photo booth and free jack-o-lantern pumpkins for the kids, families, and participants to enjoy. The San Antonio Police Department’s SAFFE (San Antonio Fear Free Environment) officers were present as well as WestCare’s neighborhood networkers who dispersed dusk to dawn light bulbs as a crime prevention tool to keep neighborhood porch lights efficiently and safely lit.
“The Resource Fair is all about the needs of our community. Having our SAFFE officers present is just as important as having life-saving health screenings and services, it gives our police officers facetime with the community that they serve and allows both community and police officers the opportunity to discuss questions and concerns without a 911 phone call.”-Costella Green, Vice President of WestCare Texas
Resources and services included COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and booster shots; influenza vaccines for children and adults; kidney health screenings; HIV/hepatitis testing; fresh produce bags provided by the San Antonio Food Bank; PPE; and bags filled with local resource and healthcare information.