The Wright Center Receives $50,000 Federal Grant to Provide COVID-19 Testing to Underserved Populations

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The Wright Center for Community Health announces it has been selected as a recipient of $50,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve access to COVID-19 testing for the region’s underserved and vulnerable populations, including rural residents.

The NIH made the funding available through its Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) initiative. Organizers of the federally supported project aim to ensure that all Americans, especially populations most affected by the pandemic, have access to COVID-19 testing.

The Wright Center plans to use the funding to deploy its mobile medical unit, called Driving Better Health, to expand testing availability in rural areas of Susquehanna and Wayne counties. The mobile unit also will build upon its current COVID-19 outreach in southern Luzerne County, serving residents of Greater Hazleton including its significant Spanish-speaking population.

Since March 2020, The Wright Center’s practices have conducted about 29,000 COVID-19 tests.

The Wright Center’s proposed grant-funded activities in Northeast Pennsylvania will be overseen by the RADx-UP Coordination and Data Collection Center (CDCC), led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Center for Health Equity Research.

The data – and the lessons – compiled during this RADx-UP CDCC Community Collaboration Mini-Grant Program will assist in bringing an end to the pandemic, addressing the nation’s long-standing health disparities and preparing for future public health challenges.

“The COVID-19 crisis is far from over,” according to information on the RADx-UP website. “Although vaccines are available for most people, testing remains a life-saving tool for many communities as the percentage of people who are vaccinated varies from place to place. Beyond the pandemic, the strategies public health leaders use to address testing (and vaccine) equity may inform how we address the larger structural inequalities and consequently improve health and save lives in the long term.”