The County of Bergen, Greater Bergen Community Action, and the Bergen Coalition of Black Clergy to play central role in education, outreach and advocacy among Black and Brown County residentsParamus, NJ, February 12, 2021– Bergen New Bridge Medical Center is leading the way to improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine in Black and Brown communities by joining forces with the County of Bergen, Greater Bergen Community Action and the Bergen Coalition of Black Clergy. The newly created COVID-19 Vaccination Equity Team has reserved weekly vaccination appointments at the Bergen New Bridge Medical Center Alternative Care Annex for Black and Brown Bergen County residents. The program debuted today with 35 community and clergy members receiving the vaccination as a public gesture of confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
“This pandemic has highlighted healthcare inequity in many communities which can only be countered by putting our words into action,” said Deborah Visconi, President and CEO of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center. “Through this new initiative, our medical center will be a source of information and support, and work to ensure vaccination appointments are reserved and easily accessible for our Black and Brown neighbors.”
“Greater Bergen Community Action has a mission to provide economic opportunity to under-resourced communities,” said Lynne Algrant, VP Planning, Development & Communications for Greater Bergen Community Action. “Now more than ever, health is wealth. Helping vulnerable communities navigate the vaccine process is imperative and we are proud to have been able to play a role.”
The danger of racial disparity among vaccination rates in Bergen County is compounded by the reality that communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. As of Friday, February 12, 2021 of the 139,337 doses administered, only 2% went to African Americans, 6% to Latinos and 7% to Asian Americans.
With awareness of this inequity and the resources to combat it, this COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Team has been assembled to help bridge the gap.
“The Black Church has been the safety net for our people throughout history and we continue to be,” said Rev. Gregory Jackson, retired pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church and coordinator of Bergen Black Clergy Against Covid-19. “In this fierce battle for our lives, we sought as partners, institutions committed to bringing resources to people who are at great risk.”
“The County and Bergen New Bridge continue to partner to lead the way out of this pandemic, first with testing and now with vaccinations,” said Jim Tedesco, Bergen County Executive. “It is a privilege to demonstrate our commitment to equity by working with Greater Bergen Community Action and the Bergen Coalition of Black Clergy to put forth our plan to reach underserved communities facing the toughest realities of this pandemic.”
“Our communities of color have been disproportionally effected by the COVID-19 pandemic but only around 2% in New Jersey have been vaccinated against the virus,” said Commissioner Mary Amoroso, liaison to the Bergen County African-American Advisory Board. “Today, Bergen County and Bergen New Bridge are taking the step of vaccinating influencers in communities of color to send out the message that the vaccine is safe and protective.”
The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Team will continue to schedule appointments for People of Color in the current priority group and to serve as an immediate and effective solution to common barriers by:
Identifying qualified personnel who typically lack access, information and opportunity
Providing assistance with the registration process
Informing and educating the targeted demographic through trusted and knowledgeable sources
Providing transportation to the vaccination site, if needed
Photo caption: Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, liaison to the Bergen County African-American Advisory Board and Alison Dubois from Greater Bergen Community Action joined County Executive Jim Tedesco and Bergen New Bridge President and CEO Deb Visconi celebrating some of the first people vaccinated through the COVID-19 Vaccination Equity Program.
About Bergen New Bridge Medical Center
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center (BNBMC), a clinical affiliate of Rutgers, is a 1,070-bed hospital located at 230 East Ridgewood Avenue in Paramus, NJ. The Medical Center is both the largest hospital and licensed nursing home in NJ and the fourth-largest publicly-owned hospital in the nation.
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, a not-for-profit safety net facility, provides high-quality comprehensive services, including acute and ambulatory care from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and community physicians, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and long-term care to the greater Bergen County community. The Medical Center, including its Long-Term Care Division, is fully accredited by The Joint Commission and is in network with all major New Jersey commercial insurance plans covering 99.91% of NJ residents.
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center is a full-service hospital with a 24/7 emergency department, surgical suites, physical rehabilitation, pharmacy, laboratory, radiologic services (including digital mammography), and more than 26 medical specialties available through its Ambulatory Care Center. The Medical Center is a Veterans Community Care Provider proudly serving the healthcare needs of veterans and is a Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) for 2020. Learn more at www.newbridgehealth.org.
About Greater Bergen Community Action
Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA) is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit Community Action Agency. Established in 1967, Greater Bergen is part of a nationwide network of poverty-fighting enterprises which were established as part of the nation’s effort to address the intractable and persistent problem of poverty in America. For more information about GBCA, go to www.greaterbergen.org.
About Bergen Coalition of Black Clergy
The Bergen Coalition of Black Clergy Against Covid-19 is an informal group organized by Rev. Gregory Jackson, formerly of Mt. Olive Baptist Church and Greater Bergen Community Action. The Coalition was formed in December 2020 to insure that the Black community has the information they need from trusted sources to make a decision about the vaccine and has access to the vaccine throughout Bergen County.