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As a comprehensive Federally Qualified Health Center serving the communities of Brownsville and East New York, BMS has carried out outstanding work addressing the health and social needs and consequences brought by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hear CEO and President Harvey Lawrence, and others on COVID-19 and BMS's response.

Making testing and food available to vulnerable communities was a titanic task in 2020.

BMS is grateful to our staff who volunteered through 2020 at the peak and toughest moments of the pandemic, as well as the community members who showed up to every emergency food event.

-Harvey Lawrence, President & CEO 

The Inequity

The COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on low-income people across New York City is undeniable. Black and Latino New Yorkers make up 46% percent of virus deaths in New York State, though they make up only 33% percent of the population. This evidence shows how communities under systemic disadvantages are the most vulnerable during a public health crisis.

COVID-19 Death Rates:

              Brownsville            East New York



per 100,000


per 100,000

These rates, as of 12/2022, are significantly higher than reported citywide.

The BMS Testing and Pivot Strategy  

Thanks to New York State and Federal grant support, BMS opened a state-funded testing facility with supplies and infrastructure providing ongoing testing, operated a testing tent at BMS’ Main location (until July 2021), provided permanent rapid swab testing (free and no insurance needed), and opened pop-ups in key points across the district.

To enable safe access to vital healthcare services, we swiftly implemented Telehealth services across all our departments and distributed cell phones to patients to enable them.


From March 2020 to November 2022, BMS provided 28,113 COVID-19 tests to members of the Brooklyn community

Emergency Food Distribution

The COVID-19 pandemic deeper the vulnerability of many families to cover basic needs. During the initial and toughest times of quarantine in 2020, BMS distributed: 


  • 50,000+ bags of food  

  • 1.2 M lb. of food to 2000+ homes (3/2020-12/2020)  

  • 1.65K+ bags of fresh produce 

  • Thanksgiving food support to 800 BMS patients staff, and community residents

  • Affordable fresh produce bags at $7 and $10

“Seeing the gratitude and relief on faces made it worth it
to volunteer, despite the concern. I gave out bags of food and toiletries to 1,000 people a week. Looking back, I am so proud of all of us who showed up of our community.” 

-Sheneice Paul, BMS Outreach Specialist

“I shared concerns about the vaccine and how it might affect our people, but our congregation met with BMS healthcare professionals in conversation, about the myths and realities of the vaccine, and did a great job setting up an easy, respectful vaccination process.”

-Rev. David K. Brawley, lead pastor St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York, and Covid-19 vaccination ambassador. Testimony captured by Doctors Without Borders.


Administering vaccines has been one of the most challenging tasks due to initial vaccines’ insufficient production and distribution at the beginning of the pandemic, myths and disinformation around the virus, and shortages in personnel and supplies. As of today 74.1%, of Brooklyn residents have completed the primary series of vaccines, one of the lowest rates in NYC.


BMS has administered 38,746 vaccinations since the program's inception in April 2021 up to December 2022, with the initial support of BMS staff who volunteered to deliver vaccines, and the subsequent support from the Visiting Nurse Service, which was funded by New York State.




Targeted Vaccination Incentives

To counter increasing COVID-19 among pediatric patients, BMS provided 188, $100 Incentive Gift Cards to patients 17 and under. 

  • 69% took the Influenza vaccine

  • 27% took the COVID-19 vaccine 

  • 4% took both vaccines

BSM School-Based Healthcare Center at JeffersonCampus implemented a successful campaign to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates, which included age-appropriate education, games, vaccination pop-ups, and incentives. Vaccination rates went from 49% to 72% by December 2022, making this an outstanding BMS best practice.

Community Outreach

The BMS team designed and tested an outreach strategy to keep engagement with high to reach patients and the local community, which included: 


  • Electronic marketing and social media campaigns
    & TV ads 

  • Phone call outreach & CareMessage text 

  • Increased internal team huddles 

  • Patient relations activation 

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  • Essential workers outreach 

  • Vaccine hesitancy surveys  

  • Vaccine ambassadors  

  • Vaccination pop-ups 

  • Education events

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BMS' COVID-19 Impact

Read a full or abbreviated report on the responses BMS enacted to help diagnose, enlighten, sustain, feed and vaccinate the communities we serve.

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