April 8, 2020
Op-Ed: Fight Covid-19 by Supporting Community Health
By Lolita Lopez
I have heard it said, “We are one global community fighting a relentless and invisible enemy.” It is not only true, but it is a variation on a theme I have been sharing with anyone who will listen over the last three decades.
I am in my thirtieth year at Westside Family Healthcare and the Coronavirus Pandemic is the worst health and economic tragedy I have experienced. It also underscores the value of my life’s work and the dedication of the people in this healthcare community. Westside Family Healthcare includes five facilities in Delaware with 240 employees. The people who work here, and the people for whom we care, are family. We are the people who fight relentless and often invisible enemies like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and flu. We are the caregivers, we are the professionals, we are the patients, and we are a community. We have also proven time and again the need to have doctors, nurses, and health specialists in the community and available to all regardless of ability to pay. We serve Delaware’s vulnerable neighborhoods with skill and compassion and now, more than ever, we need your help.
Even with judicious financial management, Westside Family Healthcare has finite resources and the unique challenge of protecting against this pandemic is overwhelming. Our inventory of personal protective equipment is depleting. The level of reimbursement for virtual care is uncertain, and we are preparing to absorb the influx of healthcare services that our hospital partners cannot deliver in the weeks ahead. In addition to in-person visits, our teams are responding to hundreds of calls a day and deploying staff to support a newly-launched telehealth program that provides virtual care for patients. We are keeping our lights on and our people employed, but COVID-19 is unprecedented and unpredictable.
We must continue keeping vulnerable populations healthy, and we have to keep those people with non-life-threatening illnesses out of hospitals. This all has to be done while making sure our health care professionals, those on the front lines of this outbreak, can do their life-saving work safely and return home to their families.
Many of you are reacting with kindness and concern. We have received donations of protective equipment from art conservation labs and manufacturing plants. Schoolteachers delivered meals to fortify our teams. Children sent handmade cards. We appreciate this help and would be humbled by your kindness as well.
As we stand by our patients, families and health care professionals, we ask that you stand by us. We launched a new COVID-19 Relief Fund devoted specifically to patients most in need. Please visit www.westsidehealth.org/covid19relief to help.
The best way to beat relentless and invisible enemies is to be even more visible in a relentless support of community healthcare.