KU School of Medicine–Wichita
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214
January 21, 2021
By Joe Stumpe
KU School of Medicine-Wichita is spreading the word about the need for COVID-19 testing in the neighborhood it calls home with the help of $10 gift cards.
Elizabeth Ablah, Ph.D., MPH, a professor in the school's Department of Population Health, delivered hundreds of postcards with a pro-testing message on Dec. 23 to the Atwater Neighborhood Resource Center, 2755 E. 19th St. N.
The flyers read, in English and Spanish: "This season, let's celebrate #factsnotfear and spread kindness not COVID-19! Free testing is available. Details: GoGetTested.com/Kansas."
Ten-dollar gift certificates to the neighborhood's only supermarket, the Save A Lot store at 13th and Grove, were attached to 305 of the cards. Ablah noted that the north-central neighborhood includes a high percentage of elderly, minority and lower-income residents considered especially vulnerable to the virus.
"Before COVID, we had a number of health disparities, and really those disparities have only widened and become more visible during the pandemic," she said. "We are wanting to give back to our community, specifically in our neighborhood."
The effort grew out of Kansas Beats the Virus, a campaign by the Kansas Leadership Center to mobilize communities across the state. A group of faculty, staff, students and graduates of the Department of Population Health met via Zoomv irtually and came up with "loads of ideas," Ablah said.
"What we ended up with was were ways that we could encourage testing and encourage folks in getting the vaccine" as it becomes available, she said. "There are so many messages out there that are disinformation or misinformation."
The group received a $3,000 grant from the KLC to pay for the gift certificates. They worked with the Sedgwick County Department of Health on the message's verbiage and with the area's City Council member, Brandon Johnson, to find a good distribution spot. The Atwater center's parking lots is used by one of the Lord's Diner food trucks to provide hot meals on weekday afternoons.
Ablah said the group purposely kept the message "short and sweet. We wanted to also start building a little trust."KU School of Medicine-Wichita