The Aurora physician hits the roadblock and tries to supply a Covid vaccine to residents in a sure zip code
AURORA, Colorado – An Aurora doctor who has dedicated his practice to serving refugees and asylum seekers encounters a roadblock to protect them from COVID-19.
Dr. PJ Parmar has been running the Ardas Family Clinic at Mango House for almost ten years.
When vaccines became available, he decided to open a vaccination clinic in Mango House, a business center and common space for refugees and asylum seekers in E. Colfax and Galena St.
“I think there are 800 locations in the state that they are shooting at right now,” Parmar said. “I don’t know anyone else who comes in without an appointment.”
Parmar told Denver7 the reason they don’t need an appointment is because they want to remove barriers to care.
“That’s the whole idea of health equity,” he said, “where you lend a hand to people who can’t make appointments, who don’t have computers, who don’t have computers.” Transportation to get to places on time. “
Parmar said they first tried to follow state guidelines that require clinics to be open to all beneficiaries.
He said most of the people who showed up were the ones with their own computers, phones, and transportation.
“The ones who are richer,” he said. “They quickly flooded our clinic and what we were doing wasn’t ‘undersupplied’ medicine, it was ‘oversupplied’ medicine.”
At that point, Parmar decided to make a change.
He posted a flyer on Mango House’s Facebook page aimed at residents of 80010 zip code.
“We will stick to our refugees and our zip code 80010,” he said. “The underserved part of the city, the poorest part of the city that was disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.”
At first the flyer said: “Only for residents with proof of post code 80010.”
This flyer triggered a quick response from the state.
Rick Palacio, a strategic advisor to Governor Jared Polis, wrote to Parmar: “We share your commitment to the residents of 80010, but you are not allowed to offer vaccines to residents of a single zip code only. If you change that.” Your efforts to target residents of a particular area, but not restrict access to others, is an acceptable practice. “
“Additionally, your clinic does not allow your clinic to require identification or proof of residence to obtain a vaccine. Identification and proof of residence are barriers to access to many Coloradans and disproportionately affect those in our immigrant communities Coloradans without a home, “wrote Palacio.
He said the goal, as outlined in a CDPHE update for vendors, is to remove barriers to distribution.
Parmar said he would like to have a conversation with people in the governor’s office about justice.
“A lot of people from richer parts of the city are calling and endlessly calling clinics like ours. They ask to be put on waiting lists and they have the time of day to do so,” the doctor said. “They go to work, maybe social distance in their own room, where we have people in this community who live six people in one bedroom and share the same car, and they’ve been doing that for a year. And they ‘I had a family member, I think these people can be given a slightly different priority, but no one in the state was willing to talk to me about these challenges. “
Parmar said his office is trying to break the fine line of openness to all as the state demands, and still shake hands with others.
“The state is calling for vaccine equality that is different from vaccine equality,” he said. “It almost feels like they’re saying you’re the littlest ones, but we’re not going to help you. We’re just going to get the milk out of there and let you take care of yourself.”
He removed the line with proof of residence in ZIP code 10010 from the Facebook flyer.
When asked if he was concerned about the impact, he replied, “By sticking my neck out and trying to deal with this vaccine justice issue, absolutely. The state could come in and take away the vaccine supply. In which case it would be that very.” sad for this community. “
He said he was given about 500 doses a week and had vaccinated about 2,000 people so far.
“I got my vaccine here,” said one patient who was translating for a group of refugees from Nepal. “The doctor definitely makes it more convenient for everyone who comes here than other clinics and hospitals.”
Parmar said he has a plan to follow guidelines and still focus on the underserved people.
“If someone calls, we’ll tell them we’re going to make an appointment and we’ll have a waiting list for it, which again is the same as most locations in the state do. If someone is from our local community, they need this one No appointment. You can come in. This is our extra hand for this church. “