BUFFALO, N.Y. — Equitable health care is something doctors and medical experts alike have been pushing for here in Western New York, especially Dr. Raul Vazquez, a longtime family medicine doctor and president of Urban Family Medicine on Buffalo's West Side.
"A lot of times we have communities that don't have access to primary care," Dr. Vazquez says.
That is why he came up with the idea to push three more Medical Mobile Clinics out into the community.
"Having units like these are redefining the way we think about community medicine," Dr. Vazquez said. "Being able to partner with churches, community-based organizations, schools is important. We can just take the care right out to these communities, and I think that's going to be real important."
If you don't believe him, just look at the increasing data as it relates to equitable care and COVID-19.
As far as testing and vaccinations go, communities of color have been at a disadvantage from the start of the COVID pandemic.
Vazquez told 2 On Your Side, "We have been tracking zip codes like 14215 from the start. They are still under-vaccinated and having a lot of high rates of COVID and mortality."
Comparably speaking, Buffalo's East Side has an infection rate 10 times that of Erie County as a whole.
And now there's the Omicron variant to contend with.
"We talk about social determinants of health, which are key," Dr. Vazquez says. "I think it's so important that doctors really move away from their offices and get attached to the community."
Much like the first unit, the three new units will have two exam rooms with beds and necessary medical equipment for a primary care visit. They also have refrigerators that can adequately store vaccines and the means to for COVID-19 test on-board.
"We will also be partnering with other providers, like behavior centers and imaging centers, so people can come here for those needs as well," Dr. Vazquez says.
As for when you can expect to see one of the new units on the streets of Wester New York? Dr. Vazquez says before the end of December.