In response to the increase in COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, which have been hampered by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), International Medical Corps is partnering in Los Angeles with these organizations to help prevent deaths and educate staff about infection prevention and control (IPC).
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, more than 40% of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 occurred in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Since it began supporting hospitals in Los Angeles, where it is headquartered, International Medical Corps has been monitoring PPE supply at such facilities. In recent weeks it has become clear that many Los Angeles nursing homes are about to deplete their supply, even as some facilities have found that 100% of their residents are COVID-positive.
Interviews with staff at the facilities revealed several challenges in maintaining PPE stocks. First, weekly distributions would typically run out before the week was over. Second, staff sometimes unintentionally overused and doubled-up on PPE, in the mistaken belief that it would provide added protection from the virus.
“This is why we provide training to nursing home staff on appropriate levels of PPE use, and how to put it on and take it off safely,” said Dr. Solomon Kuah, International Medical Corps’ LA COVID-19 response team leader. “This training helps them understand that doubling up on gloves, masks or face protection not only increases the burn rate of supplies, but increases the chance of self-contamination, because you have more layers of contaminated material to take off.”
Dr. Kuah, a native of Los Angeles, has responded to humanitarian emergencies for the past decade, including the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where he spent three months in the field implementing the same practices he now finds himself training others about.
The PPE and training provided by International Medical Corps are part of its global COVID-19 response, including the deployment around the United States of emergency medical field units, medical supplies and equipment, and clinical volunteers. The international humanitarian aid organization has provided help to more than 30 hospitals and healthcare facilities around the US, including in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Puerto Rico.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Kuah, please contact Ricki Weisberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-517-6668.
MORE ABOUT THIS RESPONSE
Since its founding more than 35 years ago, International Medical Corps’ mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those affected by war, natural disaster and disease by delivering vital healthcare services and by focusing on training. This approach of helping people, and then helping people to help themselves, is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit InternationalMedicalCorps.org or visit our social channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Medium and YouTube.
In responding to COVID-19, International Medical Corps is working globally with international health bodies, local and national governments, ministries of health, local health facilities and community-based organizations to provide expertise, equipment, training, and triage and treatment services. Its response prioritizes areas where the disease has already spread or where healthcare systems—and, thus, populations—are particularly vulnerable.
For more information about International Medical Corps’ global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit: internationalmedicalcorps.org/covid19.