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Buffalo doctor looking for state aid to better serve communities hit hard by COVID

New York State plans to allocate $15 million to communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — One Buffalo primary care doctor is already taking action, 24 hours after Governor Cuomo announced that he would be allocating $15 million from the state budget to help promote vaccinations and support communities across that the state that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Dr. Raul Vazquez has been serving the East Side for over thirty years. Founder of Urban Family Practice, Vazquez says he has seen first had just how hard black and brown communities have been hit as a result of inequitable distribution of healthcare - which the pandemic only intensified.

Throughout the pandemic Vazquez has used his mobile medical clinic, which he says he designed to respond like an ER in as many ways as possible. The goal: to meet the needs of communities out in their actual community. 

"We have to create these mobile systems for the future, because healthcare is going to be delivered quite differently," Vazquez says.

In response to Cuomo's announcement, Vazquez and his team put together a $2,618,096 dollar proposal requesting financial support that would help purchase an additional three more mobile medical clinics to service those communities that are still being underserved and overlooked.

Of the 117 zip codes identified by the State as having met the criteria of concern of having above average positivity rates and below average vaccination rates there is only one zip code in Erie County - 14215.

"In some communities, like the 14215, the approach there can't be hospital based. It can't often be just practice-based either, you've got to re-design the model to become more mobile, you've really got to go door to door in some of these settings," Vazquez explains. 

The help from state funding, Vazquez says, is helping the Western New York community create a rapid response for the future. 

Vazquez tells 2 On Your Side, "These units are not going to go away. You now have a format by where you can get into communities that are struggling to help themselves and delivery primary care."

No details have been released on if or when residents living in the 14215 neighborhood could see benefits from state aid.

The state has also yet to respond to Dr. Vazquez's proposal. 

This story is developing.