In a proactive step to contain the spread of coronavirus in Nashville, the Metro Development Housing Agency (MDHA) has partnered with Nashville General Hospital (NGH) to provide free on-site COVID-19 testing to residents and employees of MDHA. To date, 1,000 tests have been administered across the eight towers. According to Jamie Berry, Director of Communications at MDHA, “These screenings have not only provided testing, but also education to our residents, who learned how to prevent the spread of the virus.”
The partnership first took form after At-Large Council Member Sharon Hurt voiced concern that some Nashville residents may not have access to COVID-19 testing as a result of disabilities, or lack of access to resources and transportation. After representatives from MDHA and NGH gained access to proper Personal Protective Equipment, free Covid-19 testing became mandatory for all building staff, and accessible on a voluntary basis to any resident who wanted to be tested.
“We tested over 300 employees,” in addition to the hundreds of residents who received a test, says Dorothy Bennett, Chief Ambulatory Services Officer at NGH. However, as usual, NGH’s commitment to preventative care extended beyond simply offering COVID-19 tests. “At the same time we did the testing, we conducted healthcare screenings. We checked height and weight, BMI, blood pressure, and conducted lab tests to screen for chronic diseases,” she added.
Jamie Berry of MDHA stressed the significance of providing these residents with access to COVID-19 tests, saying “MDHA has seven tower properties which are home to persons 62 years and older, or to persons who have a disability. Our testing efforts began at these sites, since our residents at these properties are most vulnerable.”
Dorothy Bennett reiterated NGH’s commitment to serving the Nashville community in its entirety, saying, “That includes minorities, that includes the elderly, the disadvantaged, and those with chronic conditions. That’s equality. That’s equitable care.” NGH’s commitment to serving those with chronic conditions has proven particularly important in the wake of the pandemic, as those with underlying conditions are more likely to face severe illness as a result of infection.
NGH encouraged residents to visit the hospital if they experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and plans to extend this patient-centered care model by returning to the towers on Friday to retest residents.