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Metro Health Honored for Innovation in Public Health for Pandemic Outreach

Communications and Public Affairs: 207-7234
Published on Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Metro Health Honored for Innovation in Public Health for Pandemic Outreach

Health Department Among 20 Nationwide Selected as National Association of County and City Health Officials’ “Bronze Innovative Practice Awardee”

Rudy Arispe, (210) 207-8172


SAN ANTONIO (June 8, 2021) – San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) was honored with two 2021 Bronze Innovative Practice Awards by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The award celebrates local health departments for developing innovative programs to meet the needs of their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The designation as a Bronze Innovative Practice demonstrates a high level of program innovation and reflects collaboration, adaptability and program resilience.
Metro Health’s innovative practices “Congregate Settings COVID Response Team” and “Community Outreach & Communications, San Antonio’s Approach to COVID-19 in Communities of Color” are among 20 local health department programs to receive NACCHO’s Bronze Innovative Practice Award.
“The City of San Antonio and Metro Health are proud to receive NACCHO’s Bronze Innovative Practice Awards,” said Dr. Colleen Bridger, Assistant City Manager of San Antonio. “They are a testament of our innovative and responsive efforts to protect the health of our residents during the challenging pandemic.”
Under the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control category, Metro Health’s Congregate Settings practice was recognized for creating a sustainable, ongoing public health infrastructure to support area nursing homes, their elderly residents and staff. Over time, the initiative evolved to include dedicated epidemiology staff, academic partners, public health nurses and physicians, a public health laboratory, emergency medical services, a regional hospital coordinating council, state regulators, and data and informatics.
While other jurisdictions created similar “strike teams,” San Antonio's initiative stands out for its robustness, and for being in the vanguard of what would later become state or national policies. In San Antonio, 12.1% of COVID deaths have occurred in nursing homes, compared to 17.7% of deaths statewide and 22.3% nationally.
In the Public Health Communications category, Metro Health’s Community Outreach & Communications practice was applauded for its goal to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color by providing timely and accurate COVID-19 prevention and testing information.
To reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color, Metro Health implemented innovative approaches to include using Community Health Workers, the use of an Equity Demographic Indicator Map, an ArcGIS mapping App for field staff, and local peer influencers and music artists – such as conjunto accordionist Santiago Jimenez, San Antonio’s Poet Laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson and Tejano Music Award star Shelly Lares – to help with enhancing prevention messaging, among other strategies.
Metro Health's Communications Team also worked with the COVID-19 Community Response Coalition’s Enforcement and Education work group to develop the 3P's concept: Prevent the spread, Protect yourself, your friends and family, and Provide information to help stop the spread.
NACCHO’s Diamond Affiliate Partner, Contakt World is sponsoring the 2021 Innovative Practice Award. As the 2021 award sponsor, Contakt World will award Metro Health a $2,000 in-kind contribution of their public health services. In addition, the department will receive a complimentary registration to NACCHO’s annual conference, NACCHO 360.
Innovative Practices are exciting approaches and strategies for local public health issues that were developed in,response to the COVID-19 pandemic and were creatively adapted to meet the circumstances of the pandemic.
The Innovative Practices honors are awarded to local health departments across the country for implementing programs that can demonstrate exemplary adaptable programs with replicable outcomes. Metro Health’s innovative practices are among many successful public health practices in areas that range from health equity and face mask distribution programs to contactless delivery methods and drive through testing.  Read more about these award-winning practices at the Innovative Practices Database.

Categories: City News, Health, COVID