While Wellesley’s Health Department on Friday issued an update on its coronaviras (COVID-19) plans, town residents are developing what they hope will be a complementary support program. The town, which has its own emergency preparedness plan and participates in regional programs, is aware of this grassroots effort and communications with the residents is underway.
Biochemist and Town Meeting member Jonathan Koppelman has proposed establishment of the Wellesley Coronavirus Community Support Program and is enlisting a team of volunteers to make it a reality.
“I am trying to organize an effort to create community resiliency in the face of the Covid-2019 coronavirus,” said Koppelman, in reaching out to us.
“Right now sick patients have no way of getting daily updates of local conditions like which ERs are full, which doctor’s offices can quickly see them, and which hospitals have spare capacity. They cannot get masks, meds, gloves, eye protection, groceries and other necessities delivered to them particularly if there are shortages. There is no 7-day hotline they can call,” Koppelman says. “We want to encourage people in the community if they are sick not to transmit the disease to other people. This is not possible without community action.”
Koppelman faults the media for not being a reliable resource and says America has a poor track record of addressing disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.
A Google Sheet has been set up for volunteers. To get yourself on the volunteer list or learn more about the effort you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program’s purpose, as communicated by Koppelman:
- Communicate the latest situation to all the residents of the town beyond just looking at the latest limited communication from the CDC. This means concise, clear and regular updates that explain what is going on and what the upshot of that is. As new scientific information comes up, we can spread it to help people remain healthy.
- Enroll at-risk people in a communications program where additional important information could be disseminated from trusted sources. A helpline with email and social media would also be an excellent idea.
- Communicate scientifically based methods to minimize infection such as hand-washing, using hand sanitizers, using gloves, using masks, and using social distancing.
- Coordinate with the Massachusetts department of health at the state level. Much of the heavy lifting is going to have to be local. The state has limited resources. There may be mandated or advised quarantines and we could help to make them more effective.
- Assist fellow residents in other ways such as if someone is quarantined and needs food. This will help to encourage people to stay home when they should and not spread the virus.
- Liaise with local hospitals to figure out where best to get care in times of shortages. For example, Newton Wellesley may be full, but Beth Israel Needham may not. Those who need non virus healthcare could possibly find the best places to go with the lowest chance of contamination.
- Help vulnerable people with getting medications, masks, and other similar medical necessities. There are already shortages. We could bulk order for them as well helping them to save money and procure products.
- Help people who are a little sick but not sure how to proceed to communicate with providers to consider next steps. That way people don’t deluge the medical system with frivolous cases while making sure serious cases are brought to medical providers’ attention.
- Help to facilitate emotional support for those sick at home and for those caring for them.
- Fundraise and enable people to donate to this Wellesley Coronavirus Community Support Program. We will also need many volunteers to make phone calls, deliveries, update social media etc.
Section 1 Healthcare lisaon Description: Contacting local healthcare providers like Newton-Wellesley Hospital and finding out who their community liaisons are. Establishing relationships so that appropriate information can be shared from them. Pass general questions from community member to healthcare providers (eg ER availability) Section 2 Finances / Board of Health / fundraising Description: Work with the Board of Health regarding setting up funding. Manage donations and accounts Fundraising Section 3 Social media Description Maintain social media accounts with updates about the coronavirus, local medical care availability, and local news that pertains to it Communicate scientifically based methods to minimize infection such as hand-washing, using hand sanitizers, using gloves, using masks, and using social distancing Section 4 Coordinating with outside agencies Description Coordinate with the Massachusetts Department of Health. Assist with mandated or advised quarantines. Coordinate with local police department Coordinate with local school system Section 5 Direct help to residents Description Answer phone calls Return emails Assist people with accessing healthcare Deliver groceries Help with procuring medication Provide emotional support to people who are sick and their families Enroll at risk individuals in an email update program Section 6 Scientific and medical knowledge base Description Use medical expertise to assist with project Regularly peruse medical literature Provide timely scientific and medical updates Work with social media section to disseminate information