Dear Valued Supporters:
These are unusual times, unprecedented even – we certainly have heard those words enough in the last few weeks. Many of you watch in horror as this pandemic unfolds, wondering what you can do. The answer is that you cannot make much of an impact in Italy or Spain or China, but you can make an impact here at home, in San Diego.
Family Health Centers of San Diego intends to be a leader in combating the spread of the coronavirus in our beautiful community, and we need your help.
First, let me tell you about the work we are doing to fight this pandemic, then more about what you can do.
- Most importantly, we are not turning away anyone with symptoms, or who is ill —if we turn them away, then their only option is hospital emergency rooms – which must be preserved for those genuinely needing emergency care.
- We are implementing systems now to segregate sick patients from well persons and screening patients from tents in our parking lots, or at the entrance of our clinics, to decrease virus spread to other patients and our health care workers.
- When we need to call for emergencies, we bring patients outside so that only one responder will need PPE instead of four; in this way, we help firefighters and paramedics in preserving their masks and gloves (Personal Protective Equipment [PPE]).
- Our physicians are now using telemedicine, providing care by phone and video, to ensure that those with chronic diseases and critical medical needs have access to physicians without having to visit the clinic.
- Our therapists and psychiatrists are also converting to telemedicine while keeping staff accessible for patients in need of in-person care. Our mental health services are vital to those in crisis, and that care is key to treating patients’ needs, so that patients aren’t required to access the emergency room or inpatient treatment options.
- In just three days, our quality and IT teams developed a real-time coronavirus testing dashboard and telehealth platform.
- Soon, our in-house high complexity laboratory will be ready to test for coronavirus. Currently, using an outside lab, our results are taking almost a full week. We know by bringing this test in-house, we can provide results to our physicians and patients much more quickly.
At Family Health Centers of San Diego, our commitment to serve during this crisis is strong, but we need your help.
- We need PPE from wherever people may have contacts. Paper gowns and paper masks are the highest needs. Donations are best, but if not possible, then all we ask is for fair prices. Email us if you have connections to PPE suppliers.
- We need PAPRs (Powered Air Purifying Respirators). These are the best protection for our staff, but they are expensive ($1,500-$2,000 each) and we need 20-30 of them. Consider contributing to pay for one or more.
- The cost of coronavirus testing is $29 per test. If you can contribute to help pay for community testing, then click here.
- Hand sanitizer is desperately needed to protect our front line caregivers. Small bottles, large bottles or industrial drums – seriously, we can even make our own hand sanitizer with donations of alcohol and aloe vera or glycerol. If you have a source, then email us here.
- We need virucides, in large quantities, to help disinfect and clean our clinics and patient service areas.
If you are isolating, then you need productive activities! Consider helping your fellow San Diegans save lives by volunteering your time and skills in the making of masks for healthcare workers and patients. The pattern is simple, based on a mask-making campaign of Deaconess Hospital and is CDC-certified.
So far, we have 15 folks sewing but will need more. The current team is producing prototypes to test for comfort and protection. Once we develop a final pattern, it will be available at COVIDmaskup.com for our volunteers to use. Our commitment is to make a million masks for our health care workers and patients; help us reach our goal!
We will post a final list of supplies needed, but to get a head start, here is what we can use:
- 100% tightly woven cotton – needs to withstand moisture and be comfortable.
- Higher thread count sheets could be a good choice (not blends as they don’t wick moisture).
- Pipe cleaners, unseparated garbage bag ties (twist-ties) or rolls of metal wire; anything that can pinch at the nose, so goggles and glasses don’t become fogged.
Whatever you choose to do, know that we will be grateful for your generosity. In this unprecedented time, I know that service, giving and gratitude will make all the difference in the world.
Fran Butler-Cohen, CEO
Family Health Centers of San Diego