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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

West Side Churches Offer Coronavirus Testing: ‘We Have To Meet The Community Where They Are’

Rush University Medical Center is coordinating the testing in partnership with a church network that helps address health inequities on the West Side.

Testing will be offered at Greater Rock Missionary Baptist Church.
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GARFIELD PARK — A group of West Side churches will double as coronavirus testing sites for area residents for several weeks.

Sites will rotate so each week a different church will open its doors for testing appointments and limited walk-ins. Residents can make an appointment by calling 312-973-3867.

Greater Rock Missionary Baptist Church, 718 S. Independence Blvd., is the first in the group to transform into a testing site. Its testing services will be available daily through Jan. 8.

All sites will operate 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The churches will be open as testing sites on the following dates:

  • Jan. 13-16: Way of Life Church International, 4635 W. Fulton St.
  • Jan. 19-22: Friendship Baptist Church, 5200 W. Jackson Blvd.
  • Jan 27-30: 2nd Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 5729 W. Chicago Ave.
  • Feb. 2-5: Corinthian Temple Church of God in Christ, 4520 W. Washington Blvd.
  • Feb. 10-13: People’s Church of the Harvest, 3570 W. Fifth Ave.
  • Feb. 16-19: New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, 2700 W. Wilcox St.

Rush University Medical Center will conduct the testing. The program is done in partnership with Alive Church Network, a group of West Side pastors working with Rush to address issues driven by health inequities. The network’s other projects have tackled food insecurity, mental health needs and chronic heart disease on the West Side.

“We have to meet the community where they are,” said LaDawne Jenkins, manager of community engagement and health equity for Rush. “It’s not always easy to expect the community to come to the hospital.”

Neighborhood churches can be powerful partners in addressing health inequalities since they are often trusted organizations in communities that struggle the most with health disparities and accessing clinical care, Jenkins said.

“Those are trusted institutions for us,” Jenkins said. “If you have your pastor talking about health and health-related issues and the importance, it permeates through the congregation.”

Residents who get tested at the churches will be connected to resources if they indicate they need other support, Jenkins said. Rush’s community health workers will follow up with residents after they are tested to help them navigate services and programs available in their area, she said.

“We’re actually going to bring resources to individuals who may be food insecure or need housing or don’t have access to health care,” Jenkins said.

Testing at the churches is supported by a grant from the Chicago Coronavirus Assessment Network. Testing is expected to rotate through the churches through September.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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