Bridging the Gaps to Healthcare Access: CT’s Harriott Home Health Services
This month the CT Department of Public Health’s Vaccine Provider Newsletter put the spotlight on Harriott Home Health Services (HHHS) for their productive strategies to vaccinate Hartford’s hard-to reach populations. HHHS uses mobile unit operations to provide more opportunities for people to access comprehensive services that include both clinical care and basic needs.
As we enter into a period of the “new normal” and reflect on the lessons we have learned over the past three years, a message from communities to the public health system rings clear – accessibility is crucial and the public needs to be able to receive care where they are located. A practice that heard this message and embodied it in its work is Harriott Home Health Services, who made substantial efforts in vaccinating the unhoused population in Hartford, Bristol, and Enfield against MPox in 2022. After an outbreak in an unhoused population in Hartford, Sasa and Sheba Harriott saw that there was a need in this community for vaccination, education, and resources in a non-traditional setting and set out to address those needs. They set up an RV in a location where an unhoused population congregated to help with access and offered MPox vaccines in that RV from 3PM-7PM three to four times a week, administering over 1,000 doses of MPox vaccine in the second half of 2022. As they saw the model work and the barriers to access decrease, they expanded to include COVID-19 vaccinations and other resources, such as assistance with housing, food, clothing, and doctors appointments. Whatever the community needed, Harriott Home Health Services took pride in identifying a solution. Sasa Harriott, President of Harriott Home Health Services, explained “You can’t just start with MPox and stop there. It’s more than giving a vaccine and filling out a form.”
When asked about the lessons learned, Sasa and Sheba shared that it is incredibly important to take equity seriously. The initial thought around MPox vaccine is that communities were not interested in getting it, but Harriott Home Health Services found this to not be the case. Rather, they found people had been discriminated against in the past and did not feel like they could trust the healthcare system. Sasa and Sheba explained that building trust with people was at the core of their practice. They emphasized that the way we communicate with and meet populations is vital and that providing equity and care helps to build that trust. “Take equity seriously. It is a real thing and gaps in care exist. Break the barriers and meet people where they are… Need is need.” says Sasa.
For people interested in doing work like this in the future, Sasa and Sheba shared some insight: “Find value in every level and person you encounter.” They encourage others that want to do something similar to focus on collaboration and flexibility. Expressing that partnership is key, they suggested enlisting help from people embedded in the community when you are doing work with a population. When wrapping up the conversation, their final piece of advice is to “be open and be willing to learn something new every day.”
Read the full CT DPH newsletter here.