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Saint Alphonsus to expand its mobile vaccine outreach

Saint Alphonsus and Blue Cross of Idaho are partnering to improve COVID-19 vaccine access in rural communities.

BOISE, Idaho — Saint Alphonsus Health System announced it will be boosting its mobile vaccine outreach program thanks to a $75,000 grant provided by Blue Cross of Idaho. The funds will be used to buy a Ford transit van and equip it for use in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon.

"COVID-19 has highlighted health inequities in the communities we serve," said Jennifer Palagi, Vice President of Community Health and Well-Being at Saint Alphonsus Health System. "One of the most critical needs we've seen is access to healthcare in rural, underserved and medically fragile communities. That's why we launched our mobile vaccine program, to remove barriers to access. This generous gift from Blue Cross of Idaho enhances our ability to meet our mission – provide care for our patients where they live and offer these critical services."

The nearly 20-foot long van is being retrofitted by Wandervans of Boise, which will install custom storage, seating for eight passengers, and refrigeration to keep vaccines cold in transit and while conducting immunization clinics.

"Blue Cross of Idaho is pleased to partner with Saint Alphonsus to help deliver the COVID-19 vaccine across the Treasure Valley," said Charlene Maher, President and CEO of Blue Cross of Idaho. "Factors such as a lack of transportation, reliable digital access or a language barrier are barriers to care that we can overcome. The new mobile van can meet Idahoans in their communities and increase distribution equity for our farm workers, refugees or someone experiencing homelessness."

"Our Community Health and Well-Being team has traveled more than 2,000 miles throughout southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon and has vaccinated nearly 1,200 people in two months. This grant from Blue Cross of Idaho will help us continue to provide the needed vaccines to our rural communities in order to ensure the economic recovery continues and the health of our community members is protected," said Odette Bolano, President and CEO of Saint Alphonsus Health System. 

Saint Alphonsus is currently renting two Wandervan vehicles to operate its mobile clinics, which have visited churches, schools, community centers, non-profits and employers throughout southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon.

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