Last updated on December 17th, 2021 at 12:21 pm
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Lyle Ignace, CEO of the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center in Milwaukee, knew that clinic staff and people in the urban Native American community were being deeply impacted by the health crisis.
“It quickly became apparent that Native American people experienced the highest hospitalization and death rates of any ethnic or racial groups, with some tribal communities burying entire generations of elders,” said Melissa Ugland, public health advisor at the center.
Ignace began a twice-weekly webinar for staff and a weekly Virtual Tribal Town Hall for people in Native communities in Wisconsin and outside the state, allowing attendees to ask questions in real time. Ignace provided more than 225 staff webinars and more than 75 Town Halls during the first year of the pandemic.
In December, Ignace was vaccinated live on Facebook to demonstrate vaccine safety, a video that had more than 16,000 views on Facebook and was shared widely by local television stations. When it became apparent that rates of cases, hospitalization and death were not declining fast enough, the clinic partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin National Guard teams to host vaccination events reaching roughly 1,100 Natives and their households.