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Vice President Harris’ virtual visit with Salud Family Health Centers
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By Source: Salud Family Health Centers
In recognition of their focused vaccination efforts, Salud was honored with a virtual visit from the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at the Salud Fort Lupton Clinic and met with Salud’s CEO, John Santistevan, to discuss their vaccine efforts. Gov. Jared Polis, Lieutenant Governor Diane Primavera and Chief Nurse Rosy Mendoza were virtually present. The Vice President saw firsthand Salud’s responsive vaccination efforts and celebrated the passage of the American Rescue Plan, provides funding to community health centers, like Salud, to support widespread vaccination efforts in our communities. Below is the discussion from that virtual visit:

John Santistevan, CEO, Salud Health Centers:

Well, thank you very much. This is John Santistevan, President and CEO here at Salud Health Centers. So we’d like to welcome you. You know, Colorado -- we’re famous for our snow, so we wanted to make sure there was some snow on the ground when you guys got here.

Vice President Kamala Harris:

Well, it’s beautiful. And you know what? We’re just -- you got some efficient folks here, so they cleared the runway efficiently, like only you in Colorado know how to do. So we were able to land. Sorry we were delayed, but it was on our end that we were delayed, not yours. You guys took care of business.

John Santistevan:

Yeah, when we were talking to the Secret Service yesterday, we were saying, “Well, this is a lot of snow.” And I said, “Well, not really for Colorado. We’re used to moving snow pretty efficiently.” (Laughter.)

But thank you for giving us this opportunity to host you, Madam Vice President and Mr. Emhoff. We’re very honored to be able to host you. So, you know, if I want to tell you a little bit about Salud Family Health Centers real quickly --

Vice President Kamala Harris:

Yes please.

John Santistevan:

Salud started out as a health center here in Fort Lupton, Colorado, in 1970. And we started out in an old metal building that was affectionately called the “Onion Warehouse” because that what it used to be. So it still had the smell of onions back then. But we’ve grown to a system now where we have 13 clinics in 10 communities, and we also have a mobile unit that is dedicated to providing healthcare to agricultural farmworkers out in the fields.

So, last year, we provided -- we saw over 84,000 patients and provided 280,000 visits. Also last year, we celebrated our 50th anniversary here at Salud. And over those 50 years, we saw over 1.7 million individuals and provided over 7 million visits. So that was really fantastic.

So, you know, as you know, Salud and other community health centers across this country have been on the frontlines battling the COVID pandemic. So we are now dedicated to helping vaccine vulnerable populations and individuals of color.

So, Salud was one of the -- one of the first 25 health centers across this country chosen to participate in the health center COVID-19 vaccine program.

Vice President Kamala Harris:


John Santistevan:

So we’re receiving vaccines directly from the federal government. And this really gives us a steady supply of vaccine to receive. And this gives us the time and opportunity to outreach to the vulnerable population bases and get them scheduled after their visits. So --

Vice President Kamala Harris:

‘Well, you know. . . the work you are doing on the ground at Salud, Mr. Santistevan, is critically important. The President and I, from the beginning of this, have made it one of our highest priorities to make sure that we are taking into account racial disparities and that we supply folks on the ground with the resources you need so that we have equitable outcomes. I don’t need to tell you that Latinos account for one in five infections nationwide, Black Americans account for one in eight infections nationwide. The President and I talk about this all the time. In fact, we even created a Racial Disparities Task Force to ensure that we are collecting the information in real time to ensure that all communities are having access to the vaccine and that no one is left out.

But we couldn’t do that work without the kind of work you are doing on the ground and historically have been doing at Salud. And this is why we were very excited to join you in person, and so sorry we’re not there in person. But really do want to highlight what you are doing as a model of what a community can do to make sure that we’re reaching all people and making sure that all people are vaccinated.”

Mr. Santistevan:

Okay. Well, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time. And hopefully, sometime in the future, you can visit us again.

Vice President Kamala Harris:

We look forward to that.

The Second Gentleman:

We hope so.

Vice President Kamala Harris:

And, Governor, thank you for the warm welcome -- and Lieutenant Governor. And, Chief Nurse Rosy Mendoza, thank you for putting those shots in arms. You’re going to get us through this, but the work that you’re doing -- and I know it’s taken a lot out of you and long days and nights, but we really do thank you. So on behalf of the President -- President Biden and myself, thank you all.

Salud Family Health Centers (Salud), a federally qualified health center, operates 13 clinics in Northeastern and Southeastern Colorado.

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