The importance of testing, the power of community | Podcast features Atlanta’s Westside

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CVS Health sat down with Westside champions on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis – including leaders at Good Samaritan Health Center (known as “Good Sam”) – to talk about the importance of COVID-19 testing and the power of the community.

Breanna Lathrop, COO and Nurse Practitioner at Good Sam, worked with the CVS team to get a rapid COVID-19 testing site up and running in a matter of days this June.

Construction of Good Sam’s market pavilion concluded this spring 2020, but unfortunately the site stayed vacant due to the onset of the pandemic. Breanna realized this was the perfect spot to set up a testing site, and the community needed more accessible testing.

Breanna acknowledges that creating additional testing is important not only for the health of the Westside patients Good Sam serves but also for the health of this country: “the better we understand this data as a nation both allows us to understand ongoing health disparities and the trajectory of this virus,” said Breanna.

Hear more updates from Breanna at Good Sam’s COVID-19 blog

Over 21 years ago, Bill Warren founded Good Sam. To this day, he continues to see patients, ensuring that everyone who needs health care receives care – especially those residing in priority zip codes 30314 & 30318. “No one should have to choose between paying food or rent and coming to see us,” said Warren.

Makeda Johnson, longtime Vine City resident, founded Sister’s Action Team – an organization of women “working together transforming ourselves, our families, and our communities” – in that order. As Makeda explains, “if we have strong mothers, we will have strong families, which will translate into stronger communities. I understood that collective action is more powerful than individualism.”

Makeda can personally attest to the impact of Good Sam. “When I first start my nonprofit, I didn’t have health insurance – so I went to Good Samaritan, for one fee – a flat fee – and received the care I needed. Good Samaritan fills a very vital gap for those who need medical attention and can’t afford insurance,” said Makeda.

And importantly – patients are treated with dignity. “[Good Sam] is holistic in their approach – they have nutrition and fitness classes, so they’re not just telling you how to be well, they’re giving you the tools you need to be well,” Makeda noted.

Learn more about Sister’s Action Team and their part in the collective response to COVID-19 on the Westside. 

This summer, the dual crises of health inequity and racial inequity have been clarified for Atlantans and Americans at large. John Ahmann, President & CEO of Westside Future Fund, provided historical context for healthcare disparities on the Westside. While shifts in local and national policymaking are important, “hearts must change” for anything to change, said John – both in health care and across the country.

As Makeda explained, “being a child who came up in the 60s, this is not new to me… and it’s the young that will lead us. This is intergenerational work.”

CVS continues to work in underserved communities across the country, and the Westside of Atlanta serves as a paradigm for collaboration and connecting resources to those who need them most.

Rapid COVID-19 testing for adults continues to be available in partnership with CVS at Good Samaritan Health Center, located at 1015 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. More testing information available here

  • Schedule a testing appointment by calling (404) 523-6571
    • Mon – Thur 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
    • Fri – Sat 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

More COVID-19 community resources for Westsiders available here >>