The University of Kansas Medical Center received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to help develop and implement COVID-19 testing strategies in 10 Kansas counties, including Douglas County, according to a news release from KU Medical Center.
The grant will allow KU Medical Center to work with community partners in each of the 10 counties to develop better relationships with members of the community, said Edward Ellerbeck, chair of the department of population health at KU’s School of Medicine.
“We have been asked to develop better relationships with members of the community, including local health departments and at-risk members of the community,” Ellerbeck said.
The teams receiving this grant will work to address the needs and barriers to testing in each community that is selected, he said.
“We aren’t developing the scientific tests used,” Ellerbeck said. “We’re looking at how to get testing strategies to high-risk individuals.”
Local health departments have been crucial in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Ellerbeck said.
“Local health departments have been stretched to the max,” he said.
The grant will give Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health the ability to establish a better relationship with the community, director Dan Partridge said.
“This grant and partnership with KU Med will create an opportunity to build that grassroots level feedback loop into our system and bring in voices that have not been at the table yet,” Partridge said. “The resources are around additional staffing support and putting people out into the community.”
In the end, Ellerbeck said he hopes the grant will allow for better community relationships and more efficient testing strategies.
“Success for this project means those who are at risk or exposed feel comfortable getting tested and they are able to access testing quickly and get their results quickly,” he said. “A lot of this is building trust in communities and developing communication plans so people get a better understanding of what the process is.”