Zero. That’s the number of days Evergreen was closed during the pandemic. It’s undeniable that Evergreen Health’s services are essential to the health and wellbeing of our community. By staying open, we were able to lessen the burden for medical centers treating COVID-19 patients in desperate need of emergency care.
This isn’t our first pandemic. Evergreen was born during the AIDS Crisis in 1983. When we saw an unknown disease killing our loved ones, we gathered our resources to fight. Back then, Evergreen was known as AIDS Community Services and was comprised of a handful of volunteers. The organization expanded as breakthroughs in HIV medical therapy became available. Today, we are a leading provider in HIV care in New York state.
Our mission is to provide medical, supportive and behavioral services to individuals and families in Western New York, especially those who are underserved by the healthcare system or living with chronic illness. We achieve that by welcoming everyone who steps through our doors and never judging them. We respect everyone’s life experiences and celebrate all successes.
When the overdose crisis came to a head earlier this year, with Coronavirus concurrently threatening the livelihood of millions of Americans, Evergreen made it a priority to offer resources to people who use drugs. We distributed 939,713 syringes since March. Not only that, but we saved the lives of 239 unique individuals in Western New York with the Narcan we gave out and educated people on how to effectively use.
In the spring, we opened a drive-up testing site on Bailey Avenue, so that the largely Black and Brown East side community could have accessible healthcare resources. There, we administered 1,252 COVID-19 tests between May and August. Evergreen’s Equity and Inclusion Officer, Ekua Mends-Aidoo agreed that accessibility is impactful, “We know that underserved populations, including communities of color, have been impacted by this unprecedented crisis. Beyond just making tests available, it’s making tests accessible where we can truly make a difference.”
To ensure the safety of our patients and staff, our Behavioral Health services continued offering services but pivoted from in person to telephone and video appointments. Since April, we have conducted 9,930 calls with patients and have found patient engagement and successes to be souring. In a recent survey, 94% of our patients feel like Evergreen staff treats them with kindness and respect.
We are a community-centered organization. We address the needs of those around us and we never turn anyone away. That is why we need you. If anything, the past four decades have taught us that it takes a community to effect real, positive change. By donating to Evergreen Health, you are providing care for people living with HIV. You are saving the lives of people who use drugs. You are giving life-changing behavioral health care to individuals who are struggling during a pandemic. For those reasons, and so many more, we hope you will consider a donation to the Evergreen Health Foundation.
As 2020 comes to a close, we want to thank you for making Evergreen a part of your community. Evergreen will continue to enact positive, quantifiable change within our community, just as it has for nearly 40 years. We envision a future in which everyone has access to affordable healthcare in an inclusive, compassionate, respectful and judgment-free environment. We aim to empower patients to lead healthier lives and honor diversity and life experience. We invite you to join us.