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'CATE' COVID-19 initiative celebrates one year of education, testing, and vaccinations

One year ago, several organizations partnered up to bring a mobile COVID-19 education and testing van into rural, underserved communities.

CAMP HILL, Pa. — One year ago, organizations like Highmark Blue Shield, Latino Connection, and Penn State Health partnered up to bring a mobile COVID-19 education and testing van into rural, underserved communities.

The van, better known as "CATE," was initially created to bring COVID-19 testing to people in communities who would have had a difficult time getting a test in their community. 

Besides testing, CATE also focuses on the education aspect: the goal being going to where people live, speaking to them in their own language, building trust, and answering any questions they had about COVID-19. Once the vaccines received Emergency Use Authorization, CATE was out in these communities offering the vaccine to those who were qualified.

Throughout the last year, the van has reached 20,000 people with education, performed 5,200 COVID-19 tests, and administered 8,300 COVID-19 vaccines. 

"Without a van like this in Central Pennsylvania, you wouldn't have rural communities and communities that are underserved, communities that are hard to reach, you wouldn't have access if you lived in those communities," Kathy McKenzie, vice president of Community Affairs for Highmark Blue Shield said. "So, looking back, knowing we were able to reach people who otherwise wouldn't have been able to get to a hospital or to a health clinic was invaluable." 

Moving forward, CATE will continue to be out there in rural and underserved communities, building trusted relationships, educating about COVID-19 and vaccines, and administering COVID-19 vaccines.

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