© 2022 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Truman Medical Centers/University Health Takes Vaccination Scheduling To The Streets of Kansas City

Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Hayat Abdullahi (left) and Judith Navarro (right) walk through the River Market to visit businesses and inquire about whether employees have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Members of TMC's Community Health Strategies and Innovation team fanned out along the trolley route Monday looking for shops where employees might need COVID-19 vaccinations.

Hayat Abdullahi says people are busy.

That’s one of the main obstacles keeping them from getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

And it’s also one of the reasons members of the Truman Medical Centers/University Health's Community Health Strategies and Innovation team were pounding the sidewalks on Monday in Kansas City, ducking into shops and restaurants along the streetcar route.

“Small businesses, that’s their livelihood,” Abdullahi says, explaining why time is so scarce. “They get up in the morning, go to the business, they get out and go home.”

According to Abdullahi, the number of people heading into clinics and mass vaccination centers in town has been dwindling. So, Truman Medical Centers/University Health decided to meet people where they are to get them scheduled for the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine.

Seven TMC/UH employees fanned out in small groups, entering businesses and asking owners and managers if employees had been vaccinated. Wherever they found people needing or wanting vaccines, the team would offer to schedule an appointment at that location for free.

Daniel Fikru owns Blue Nile Café, one of the businesses TMC/UH representatives visited on Monday. He says that while many of his employees have been vaccinated, a few still need shots, and he plans to work with TMC/UH on that.

“This is good,” he said. “It’s a long way to go before we have some kind of herd immunity. So we’ll do our best.”

Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Truman Medical Centers' Director of Health Strategies and Innovation Hayat Abdullahi, left, talks with Daniel Friku on Monday inside his Blue Nile restaurant in the River Market.

Abdullahi says most businesses express concern about the cost of; the shots, however, are free. TMC/UH schedules the second round for the same location 21 days after the initial visit.

Walk-in clinics will continue, Abdullahi says, but so will the new outreach program on foot. Team members will hit Truman Road on Thursday.

Leslie Carto, TMC/UH's managing director of external communications, says reaching out to the community is crucial because people who were highly motivated to get the vaccine have largely gotten their shots by now; it’s people who are busy or not well connected who have been left behind. For them, Carto says, convenience matters.

“People are busy. Maybe they don’t know where to go,” Carto explains. “Maybe it’s easier if someone comes to you and tells you and holds your hand through the process and gets you to the vaccine.”

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.