Pastor Donnie McClurkin of Perfecting Faith Church has opened the church's building at 311 N. Main St. for a series of pop-up vaccine and testing clinics as a resource for church members and an outreach to the surrounding community.
The clinic administers two COVID-19 vaccines: Moderna for ages 18 and older, Pfizer for ages 12 and up, and Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine for children ages 5-11. In addition, free COVID tests are administered, and flu shots are available.
Last Saturday, the church’s community relations liaison, Deborah Payton-Jones, worked with her grown daughter, Dominique Jones, at the intake table in the vast room that serves as worship sanctuary as well as a flexible concert and activity center.
“We put a sign out front on clinic days,” Payton-Jones said, “so people walking by will see it. Many people around her don’t have vehicles, but need accessible COVID services. When we restart regular evangelical outreach and prayer days, whoever comes to those can also access the clinic.”
Payton-Jones guided patrons through registration for the results of the COVID PCR swab test, and then through the test itself. The results are sent securely via email. Records can be stored in one’s smartphone.
The clinic is the brainchild of a medical entrepreneur named Johonniuss Chemweno, who grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He started his company, Inverse Medical, with the goal of making medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare services accessible to underserved populations. One branch of his enterprise is VIP Star Network, which primarily provides services on for locations commonly used for filming movies throughout New Mexico, but has arranged a contract with New York State to improve access to those services.
“Our doctors and nurses bring pop-up clinics on weekends, nights, and early mornings, so there will be no barriers to vaccines and testing,” said Dr. Sandra Bonat, M.D., who was overseeing the clinic at Perfecting Faith Church. “Our CEO [Chemweno] is passionate about access to medical care. He is developing an app so patients can find care, find facilities that take their insurance, and schedule appointments with specialists.’
“Our mobile van is self-contained,” explained Raven Bagy, one of the nurses. “We serve schools, harm reduction centers, housing projects, and transient populations – anywhere that they have space for us.”
“We’ve been to every borough except Staten Island,” said nurse Valentina Valencia, who lives in Queens.
Her co-worker, Sophia Mejia, is from Long Island. “VIP Star Network has some events in Suffolk, too,” she said. “I went with the mobile van to Copiague. The van has been to Central Islip and Brentwood, too.”
The two nurses administered vaccines as patients trickled steadily in.
Venetia Moore, a Perfecting Faith member who lives in Queens, had brought her grown god-daughter and the god-daughter’s toddler to the clinic.
“I am so glad that our pastors chose to do this,” said Moore. “I attend this church, and I’m really happy that we have a community focus, that we care about what’s going on and that we’re on the cutting edge of helping people to walk through this pandemic.”
Perfecting Faith has strictly observed the state and CDC guidelines for COVID closures and reopening. Currently, for attending services and events in-person, the church requires proof of a negative COVID test done within the past two weeks. Masks are required. Attendance at services may also be accomplished via Zoom. The certificate Moore receives for testing negative will be good for the next two Sundays.
“This week, I was able to bring my godchild and let her get her booster, which she needed,” said Moore, “and she was able to get the PCR test and all that. So this is an amazing thing.”
Two more pop-up clinics are planned for March 5 and March 12. For more detailed information, contact the church at (516) 223-0047.