Building Bridges to Better Health Promotes Health Amid Pandemic

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2 Building Bridges to Better Health
COVID-19 outreach at the testing site held at the Recreation Center in Bound Brook. Pictured are Hector Herrera (BB Township Administrator), Sara Sooy (Somerset County Commissioner), Serena Collado (Director of Community Health at RWJUH Somerset), Jose Mujia (Supervisor of Respiratory Therapy at RWJUH Somerset), and Luz Healey (Diabetes Center Administrative Assistant).


Over the winter of 2020, Bound Brook and South Bound Brook experienced a rise COVID-19 cases. Knowing that the Latino population was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in the first wave, and the community’s hesitancy to obtain COVID-19 vaccines, the Building Bridges to Better Health (BBBH) team immediately launched a COVID-19 intervention.

Our team posted about COVID-19 prevention, testing, and vaccine clinics on social media and our website. Additionally, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, a BBBH partner, conducted multiple outreach events in Bound Brook to educate community members on prevention.

On January 13, bilingual staff from the hospital participated in a COVID-19 testing site at the Bound Brook Recreation Center. This testing site was a collaboration between Bound Brook Township, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and the BBBH coalition. Staff educated 100 individuals and provided each with masks, hand sanitizer and other essential items.

In February and March 2021, the team attended additional COVID-19 testing sites held at the Imperial, a bar and restaurant that is popular with residents. Between those two dates, 170 community members were educated and received COVID-19 essentials such as masks and hand sanitizers.

“As part of Building Bridges to Better Health, it has been invaluable partnering with RWJUH Somerset. The bilingual staff answer community members’ questions, address vaccine hesitancy and educate on prevention. This has assisted Bound Brook in creating awareness and fostering healthy behaviors,” said Bound Brook Township Administrator Hector Herrera.

The BBBH team also distributed kits of personal protective equipment to 21 local businesses in Bound Brook and South Bound Brook. Many business owners have struggled financially and could not afford to purchase the necessary supplies to keep their employees healthy and safe. The kits included 100 masks, 100 gloves, 20 hand sanitizers, a first aid kit and disinfecting wipes.

Although the number of COVID-19 cases has decreased, BBBH remains vigilant and continues to educate the community with the ultimate goal of creating a Culture of Health.

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Serena Collado
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset