This change was announced by Health Commissioner Farley on February 23. Philadelphia FIGHT thanks Mark Segal Publisher, and Tim Cwieck, a reporter for the PGN coverage that led to this change. The policy was changed the day this story appeared.
We at Philadelphia FIGHT have been distressed by the bungled COVID vaccine response carried out until a few days ago by a new organization called Philly Fighting COVID (PFC). As you are probably aware, PFC, with no medical leadership, an inexperienced graduate student as their CEO, and no history whatsoever of the delivery of medical services, was chosen by the City to run its first vaccination mass distribution center through a process that has still not been made public.
Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers is not connected to and was not involved with PFC’s project, in which unlicensed volunteers were apparently asked to vaccinate the most vulnerable Philadelphians, in an environment of ever-shifting leadership, and where the founder of PFC has been reliably quoted as saying that he intended to become wealthy as a result of franchising his dangerously flawed approach. There are many other allegations which you can read about here and here. Immediately following the City’s ending its relationship with PFC, confusion arose as to how thousands of people eligible for a second dose of vaccine would get it, and in the first-day post the split, which vaccine would be used.
Many people have called us or written messages to us asking about this issue, and we are hearing from our staff, our board, and our funders an impression has been created that we are affiliated with the PFC. We want to clearly state: Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers is not PFC, and has nothing to do with PFC. FIGHT was founded over 30 years ago to address issues related to HIV/AIDS. Seven years ago we expanded our services to become a Federally Qualified Health Center serving over 6000 patients. Most of our patients are low income, and the majority are people of color. Our clinical providers offer and have always offered state of the art HIV and Hepatitis care, in a primary care setting that also emphasizes dignity, choice and access to the best treatments available. We are funded and heavily regulated by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department of Health, and the City. We conform to all relevant requirements and regulations. Unlike what has been reported about PFC, we do not make it up as we go along.
We were not involved with this project in any way. But we have all been harmed by it. PFC is arguing that no harm has been done, apparently because people have been vaccinated. They are wrong. Their actions have eroded the trust of everyone in the process of mass vaccination and raised questions about what else we do not know. The erosion of trust is a great harm, and it may delay our city’s ability to respond to the pandemic in an effective manner.
Let us be clear: This breakdown has occurred during the most serious pandemic of modern times, and just when we finally have hope from two vaccines. Worldwide nearly 2.2 million people have died so far including 433,000 Americans. Due to a massive effort on the part of scientists, the scientific arms of the government and the pharmaceutical industry, two vaccines have received emergency approval and are now available to begin to turn the tide. Scientists have found no reason to fear these vaccines. The vaccines are extremely effective. They offer real hope, not that this is the end, but that we will actually see the end of this pandemic. Yet vaccines will end the pandemic only if most people are willing to be vaccinated. And right now, the fact is, we do not know if that will be the case. Many people remain hesitant or reluctant to accept these vaccines, citing concerns about the history of the exploitation of vulnerable populations by scientists, pharma, and even doctors. These concerns are legitimate. We believe they can be addressed in a context of trust between provider and patient, but we have many years of experience which has taught us that trust must be earned by the provider, before we can start the conversation. Nothing matters more than trust right now and it is difficult to see how it will be restored in this community, given the actions of PFC and sadly our government.
The trust of our patients and our community is everything to us. Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers hopes all of our patients will want to be vaccinated by an approved COVID vaccine. When the vaccines are available to us, we will vaccinate our patients who are interested, utilizing licensed and certified clinical staff who have been trained in vaccine administration, in an environment where all patients are monitored to assure that if any reaction occurs it will be addressed promptly and successfully. In the interest of speed, we hoped to be able to also offer our patients the option of mass vaccination sites if they prefer. But we, like everyone else, will be far more cautious in our referrals, as we have now seen what can happen without appropriate oversight.
We urge the City will have more transparency in the development and management of COVID mass vaccination sites, including setting standards for personnel, operating procedures, vaccine management and emergency response. We hope the city will immediately investigate what went wrong in their own process that allowed this to happen.
And we ask you to help us now by knowing Philadelphia FIGHT CHC has no connection to the PFC organization, and by letting your contacts in the community know this too.
COVID Vaccines are here and are beginning to roll out! At this time only essential healthcare workers have access to vaccines in Philadelphia. This is due to decisions made at the national level to limit the numbers of doses released and sent to the states. Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, have chosen to use the limited doses they have for direct service healthcare workers, including in hospitals, health centers, nursing homes, etc. However, keep in mind that after January 20 a new plan will be in place. While the order of who will get vaccines may not change, the amount of time to move through the various groups who are eligible may speed up, and when it does, FIGHT will be ready to vaccinate our patients.
We have gathered some materials which you can learn more about COVID vaccines.
- All Health Centers Case Conference: Multi-Discipline [Access Passcode: VACCINE#1]
- HHS Announces $22 Billion in Funding to Support Expanded Testing, Vaccination Distribution
- Understanding COVID Vaccines and How They Work
- Vaccine Myths and Facts from the Mayo Clinic
- Coverage of Biden’s Vaccine Plan
- People with HIV and Vaccines
Last night Philadelphia police shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr., an African American man with known mental illness who was holding a knife. This happened despite Mr. Wallace’s mother and neighbors trying to tell the police that he was mentally ill, that they knew him and that he would drop the knife. This was an utterly outrageous abuse of power for which there can be no excuse whatsoever. This was an utterly outrageous abuse of power by a police department that failed this past summer to restrain its officers from unnecessary use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and which has failed repeatedly over many years to develop implement and enforce policies that would recognize mental illness as a condition from which people suffer, and not as a crime for which they should be restrained, jailed, and in cases like this, shot.
There is no possible excuse for this action. Walter Wallace Jr. was a Black man with a known condition that put him doubly at risk. Where was the training for police in mental health? Where was the DHS Mobile Crisis Team that is supposed to coordinate and partner with the police department? Here is newspaper coverage of this team: https://www.inquirer.com/health/mental-health-mobile-crisis-units-philadelphia-20200813.html Where were they? Where was the supervision on use of deadly force?
We call on the Philadelphia Police Department to suspend the officers now, today, and to investigate the death of Walter Wallace Jr. immediately and thoroughly including taking the word of the people who were on the scene seriously. We call on the Police Department to include in their investigation what we in health care call a root cause analysis: what happened on the scene but also what policies, practices or customs of the Police Department contributed to this terrible tragedy. Were policies followed? If not, why not. Nothing like this ever occurs in isolation.
We also call on the District Attorney not to wait for a lengthy police investigation but to move immediately to investigate and charge the police officers involved.
To the neighbors and friends of Walter Wallace Jr. and his family, we share your grief and outrage. To all the mothers and fathers who fear for their Black sons at the hands of the Philadelphia Police Department, we share your grief and outrage. To the many people living with serious mental illness in Philadelphia, especially people of color, who have a right to expect that the institutions of government will not kill or injure them when they have a crisis, we share your fear, we share your outrage, we share your grief, and we pledge to do what we can to assure that decent and compassionate treatment is available to people with mental illness, rather than terror and death.
For our patients at this terrible time: Philadelphia FIGHT’s clinicians, our therapists, our case managers and our counselors are always available to you. We are available in person or through Telehealth. Please give us a call if we can help.
The Institute for Community Justice will be partnering with the Mann Up Association and the Philadelphia Police Department’s 22nd District to host a Gun BuyBack and Bucks for Bullets event on Saturday, October 24th. The event will take place at Moore’s Memorial Baptist Church, 1421 W Dauphin St, from 1 to 5pm.
The event will focus on the other pandemic plaguing Philadelphia neighborhoods: gun violence. The goal of this event is threefold: to reduce the availability of guns in the community, to build community rapport and engagement with law enforcement, and to empower residents to address gun violence in their neighborhoods.
Incentives, including Shop Rite and Visa gift cards of varying amounts, will be given for each gun or bullet turned in. Amounts will be determined by the type of gun turned in. All submissions will be done anonymously and without any reprisals from the criminal justice system.
For more information, contact ICJ’s Reentry Center Manager at email@example.com at (215) 985-4448 ext 405.
Philadelphia Rental Relief Program
Philadelphia has instituted a rental relief program for people who have lost income because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is for renters, whose incomes are under 500% of the poverty level. That amount is $63,800 for one individual; add $22,400 for each additional person in the household. Rental assistance is for three months with the possibility of extensions. This program is limited to people who receive Ryan White services and who do not have other housing subsidies. Click here for links to the guidelines, and to the application. Only your case manager can submit the application.
Please visit PHLRentAssist.org for more information.
New York Times, June 30, 2020
‘Every Work of American Literature Is About Race’: Writers on How We Got Here (New York Times, June 30, 2020)
Can Redeem the Soul
of Our Nation
Though I am gone, I urge you toJohn Lewis
answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.
The civil rights leader, activist and Congressman died on July 17, 2020. This essay was written before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed during this unprecedented time, you’re not alone. These feelings can be heightened by illness, isolation, job loss, and uncertainty.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The City of Philadelphia and Independence Blue Cross are teaming up to help Philadelphians check in with themselves and others. Taking care of our mental well-being is more important than ever.
Go to mindPHLtogether.com to find mental health resources that can help you and your family. Your healthcare provider can also help you get the care you need.
Now more than ever, we have a responsibility to take care of each other. We all can fight stigma and educate and inspire others. So check in with friends and family, and access mental health resources if you need them.
Let’s take care of our mental health—together.
Have you lost income because of COVID-19? Are you having trouble paying your rent? The City of Philadelphia might be able to help.
Philadelphia is launching a COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This program aims to help people who have lost income because of COVID-19 pay their rent. It makes payments directly to your landlord.
You can see if you are eligible on the Apply page. You can also see what documents you will need to provide.
The City will begin accepting applications for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 10 a.m. The deadline to apply is Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 5 p.m.
Funding is limited. Not every applicant will receive assistance.
All selected tenants will receive rent assistance for up to three consecutive months for up to $2,500 total. If funding permits we will try to provide ongoing assistance for up to a year for renters who still need help after three months.
Your situation will be re-evaluated every three months. Depending on your situation you may receive emergency rental assistance for three months, six months, nine months or one year. Assistance is limited to $2,500 per three-month period.
To apply, visit phlrentassist.org.
The process of closely monitoring those who are exposed to an infected person. It includes identifying contacts of the infected person, listing and informing those contacts of the infected person, and following up to check up on contacts’ infection and symptoms.