Health Disparity-Targeted COVID-19 Testing Through a Mobile

What question were you seeking to answer?

We knew that there were health disparities that prevented many people from getting tested for COVID-19. We wanted to see if we could develop a mobile COVID-19 testing unit that was able to break down some of the barriers to testing and help catch cases early before outbreaks ensued in underserved communities.

Why did you choose this topic? 

I chose this topic because it allowed me to work with the AU/UGA MP Mobile Clinic, also known as Athens Free Clinic. I have worked closely with the clinic for several years reaching back to my undergraduate and graduate school days at UGA, so I always look for ways that I continue working with the clinic.

How did you study this question? 

We set up a remote medical student-run hotline where residents of Athens and Clarke County could call in and request mobile COVID-19 testing if they had a lack of access to reliable transportation. We tested patients door-to-door and in community settings in the already-established mobile clinic communities. Demographic data was collected on all of our patients, and we were able to compare this data to the local health department and the statewide data for Georgia.

What did you learn through your research? 

From April to July, we were able to test 1,778 people for COVID-19. 62% of the people that we tested were Hispanic and African American, while this same population only accounted for 37% of the people tested at the Northeast Georgia Health District’s drive-through site. We learned that Athens Free Clinic was successful in reaching vulnerable populations, and we were also able to complete surveillance testing in communities where there were ongoing outbreaks.

Who stands to benefit from this research? 

We were able to successfully set up a mobile COVID-19 testing platform that can be copied in other parts of the country that has similar demographics and resources as our community. We are presenting our research at a conference in February at the STFM Medical Education conference so that educators at other medical school can use our work as a template to create more targeted COVID-19 testing approaches, and so that medical students at other medical schools can be involved in the process.

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