Healthcare heroes across the country are teaming up and going beyond the call of duty to provide empathetic, high-quality care during a time of great need.
Healthcare is a business, but it’s also a calling. Despite the competition, when it comes to fighting the coronavirus, we’re all on the same team. Here are a few recent examples of concerted efforts by healthcare heroes.
A team of Delaware National Guard citizen airmen and citizen soldiers assisted medical staff from the nonprofit ChristianaCare health system at Nemours Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children (AIDHC) and Saint Francis Healthcare to set up a new 38-bed field hospital at AIDHC as part of nationwide, federal and state efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.
ChristianaCare joined with Delaware business leaders Richard Piendak and Dave Tiberi and state Sen. Nicole Poore to conduct a multiday donation drive of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those on the front lines of the pandemic at Delaware hospitals. People and businesses delivered thousands of PPEs, including N95 masks, gloves and Clorox wipes.
NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest public health system, manages 11 municipal hospitals across New York City, which has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus. To accommodate a surge in patients at its hospitals, NYC Health + Hospitals has begun tripling its systemwide ICU capacity, with a goal of adding 3,000 additional ICU beds by May 1.
Healthcare professionals are also training in other medical areas to help COVID-19 patients. Among them are psychiatric nurses at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, training to work alongside medical surgical nurses during the pandemic, and dental anesthesiology residents at the system’s Jacobi Medical Center, training to work in critical care.
MedStar Health, a nonprofit, community-based healthcare organization serving Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, has expanded its telehealth services to better meet patients’ needs amid the COVID-19 crisis. Many health concerns can now be addressed through MedStar Health Video Visits, which allow patients in many situations to connect with their provider from home using their tablet, smartphone or computer.
Meanwhile, MedStar’s ICU Provider Mobile Bootcamp, a simulation lab, is traveling throughout the region to prepare clinicians for intensive care treatment, should ICUs require extra help during the pandemic. This “training lab on wheels,” as an NBCWashington news report referred to it, could supply an ICU in need with “a whole team of physicians,” said John Yosaitis, MD, an anesthesiologist who is leading the training.
Florida Blue, an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, teamed with Jacksonville’s Foodery Farms on a project called “Florida Blue, Farmers and You,” which has already distributed more than 6,000 pounds of produce to seniors and families struggling to afford or gain access to food during the pandemic. Recipients paid $5 each for about $20 worth of food, and a $10,000 Florida Blue grant covered the difference.
In west Florida, Florida Blue has donated more than 1 million meals to Feeding Tampa Bay, the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida and the All Faiths Food Bank. Also, while people are remaining home amid coronavirus concerns, Florida Blue is making virtual dental care free to those Florida Blue dental coverage.
CareOregon, a nonprofit providing health plan services, has stepped up its efforts on multiple fronts. Those include working with its provider network to set up new telehealth options and other avenues for members to access their doctors; promoting its partner Lines for Life, a regional nonprofit dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide, for those suffering anxiety or depression as a result of social isolation; working with its partners to support creative funding plans; and collaborating with community organizations to support immediate needs, including reallocating $1 million through its Community Giving Grant program for organizations offering food security, shelter and rental assistance.
OptumRx, part of the OptumCare family, is working not only to make sure prescription medications are available, but also to provide comfort for those experiencing anxiety and isolation. Efforts have included relaxing some pharmacy benefits policies and reaching out to high-risk Medicare members to educate them about home delivery.
Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, an infectious disease expert at The Everett Clinic, part of Optum, helped lead a study with UnitedHealth Group Research & Development that has provided more options for sample collection, an essential part of COVID-19 testing. The study found that alternative swab materials and commonly available saline are effective for testing.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Anthem’s Coronavirus Resource Center offers updated benefits information for members, employees, producers and providers, as well as links to telehealth and other solutions. Members can connect with a doctor who can evaluate their symptoms and let them know whether an in-person visit is necessary. The Sydney Care mobile app features a tool to help members quickly understand their potential risk for COVID-19, as well as set up a telehealth visit through text or video. Anthem’s partnership with the social care network Aunt Bertha provides access to free and reduced-cost programs for help with social determinants of health such as food, transportation, health, housing and job training. Its Mental Health Resource Hub, a free online digital resource site powered by Psych Hub, can help members navigate social isolation, job loss and other challenges posed by the coronavirus.
These examples show how healthcare professionals and organizations are going beyond the call of duty to provide empathetic, high-quality care during a time of great need. Challenging times such as these demand uncommon responses, and that’s what we are seeing. Let’s all keep up the good work!