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Here’s What You Can Do to Help Those Who Are Helping

Posted by Gerald Lombardo on Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 at 4:25pm.

Health care professionals are the helpers we turn to in times of need. Now that they’re under siege, they need our help as well. Here are some ways to help.

Follow the Rules

It’s the No. 1 plea of all health care providers and emergency workers: Maintain social distance if you go out. Otherwise stay home!

Also, take a breath before seeking in-person help. If you feel sick, don’t start with an overflowing emergency room or the strained 911 system. Try this coronavirus self-checker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Contact your family physician or a nearby urgent care clinic. In many cases, you can make an appointment via telemedicine, a technology that’s caught on rapidly since the pandemic began. If you’re healthy, you’ve lowered your own exposure risk. If you have a mild case, you’ve decreased others’ risk and can self-treat at home.

Help Procure Drastically Needed P.P.E.

The virus has exposed this country’s extreme shortage of masks, gowns and similar protection. Some providers have taken the unprecedented step of begging on social media for this equipment.

Donate to P.P.E. fund-raisers on sites like Fundly or GoFundMe. The latter offers guidance on starting your own campaign. Multiple organizations are also pitching in: the Center for Disaster Philanthropy has a Covid-19 response fund. So does Direct Relief. Or, if you operate a business that has masks that aren’t being used now, donate supplies directly.

If you locate P.P.E., see if your local hospital or ambulance station wants it; call your county medical society or public health office. You can also contribute via sites like GetUsPPEDonatePPEMask-Match or the broader PPE Coalition.

Repurpose a Hobby or Skill

Like to sew? A movement to make masks for hospital workers is in full swing. Cloth masks don’t meet N95 safety standards, but providers may use them if they’re all that’s available. There are a wide range of patterns online; see if a nearby hospital accepts homemade masks or connect with a group involved in distribution.

People with a 3-D printing hobby are also stepping up, turning out masks and face shields based on open-source designs.

Donate Blood

The Food and Drug Administration, desperate for donations, just relaxed some of its existing restrictions, so that more people can step up to give blood. The national supply has fallen precipitously, leaving already overburdened doctors worried not just about coronavirus but patient care across the board.

To find a center, try the American Association of Blood Banks locator, visit the Red Cross website, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. You can also find information through the America’s Blood Centers website.

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