- Direct Relief is working in overdrive to get protective gear and critical care medications to as many health workers as possible, as quickly as possible, with emergency deliveries leaving daily for medical facilities across the U.S.
- Since January, Direct Relief has delivered more than 30 million N95 and surgical masks, more than 7 million gloves, more than 1 million face shields and tens of thousands of protective suits and other items to help safeguard health workers.
- Direct Relief is coordinating with public health authorities, nonprofit organizations and businesses in the U.S. and globally to provide personal protective equipment, essential medical items, and emergency funding to health workers and organizations responding to coronavirus (COVID-19).
As everything is contracting, Direct Relief is expanding its coronavirus response efforts through the large-scale provision of PPE and other medical essentials.
As case totals continue to grow, Direct Relief’s activities are focused on four key areas:
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard health workers
- Deploying medication needed for intensive care units to expand the capacity to care for ICU patients
- Boosting support to safety-net facilities to address existing chronic gaps that are likely to grow
- Collaborating with infectious disease epidemiologists, technology companies and public agencies to use aggregated mobility data to support the COVID-19 response.
Protecting Health Workers
Direct Relief maintains an emergency stockpile and, whenever possible, prepositions emergency caches of essentials that are likely to be needed immediately and can help avert or reduce the health effects of an emergency.
While responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in China, and seeing the rapid-onset shortages of PPE, treatment capacity, and unprecedented quarantines, Direct Relief reserved stocks and immediately began preparing for the expected arrival of the virus in the U.S. and other countries.
Upon the virus’ pandemic spread, Direct Relief has been sending shipments of protective gear on a near-daily basis to health facilities across the U.S. and the world.
Bolstering Critical Care Capacity
Recognizing that a rapid demand spike for ICU medications was likely to result in the same type of stockouts of needed medications as had occurred with PPE in China, Direct Relief worked to get ahead of the crisis by developing an ICU medication estimator to build a stockpile of medications used to treat Covid-19.
Direct Relief receives substantial support from medical manufacturers and is channeling those resources to health facilities in Covid-19 hotspots, as well as sharing its assessment tools and inventory with public health agencies throughout the U.S. and globally.
In addition, Direct Relief is delivering equipment such as oxygen concentrators for COVID-19 patients who require oxygen supplementation during their recovery. Oxygen concentrators can free up ICU beds by allowing patients to recover after they’ve been discharged while still receiving breathing assistance.
Investing in Community Health
As is the case in all emergencies, the pre-existing gaps get bigger fast as resources are redirected to the emergency.
Much of Direct Relief’s work is to ensure people who are least fortunate have access to medications to manage their chronic conditions.
The pressure in U.S. hospitals makes it even more important to ensure that people continue to manage their chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and asthma.
If they don’t, as often occurs during emergencies, people managing their chronic health conditions through their primary care health center can rapidly fall into acute crisis, which requires immediate, urgent hospital care.
To support safety-net health workers serving America’s most vulnerable communities, Direct Relief established the Covid-19 Fund for Community Health.
The Fund has already granted more than $27 million to help health workers and facilities manage the strains put on them by Covid-19. Grants have been disbursed to community health centers, free & charitable clinics and pharmacies, and other community-based non-profit health providers in Direct Relief’s partner network. These providers focus on primary and preventive care and serve a relatively high proportion of patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
One major intended use of the funds is to help community health providers in cities have seen high Covid-19 fatality rates among African Americans, such as Detroit, New Orleans and New York City.
The Covid-19 Fund for Community Health is anchored by a $10 million donation from 3M, $8 million of which is to support health workers in the U.S., and $3.7 million raised on Easter Sunday by the Dance-a-Thon organized by entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Direct Relief will continue to support safety net facilities, which always serve to depressurize hospital visits and as triage points to optimize care, even as they respond to COVID-19.
Analyzing and Mapping Population Movements
To help inform decision-makers at the state and local levels on the efficacy of social distancing policies, Direct Relief is collaborating with infectious disease epidemiologists and technology companies to analyze and derive insights from aggregated mobility data.