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Communities on the Frontline: Week of July 6

Around the world, communities are using innovative approaches to support coronavirus (COVID-19) response efforts. Each week, FEMA is highlighting these extraordinary efforts so that other others can learn from and expand on them. This week focuses on making sure health services are accessible to all.

Online Mental Wellness Sessions

To mitigate a potential increase in psychological distress among Native American communities as a result of social isolation and health and economic impacts of the pandemic, the Native Wellness Institute launched a daily online Power Hour for healing and wellness that incorporates ancestral teachings and traditions. These sessions have covered topics such as self-care, resiliency and activism.

Telehealth for Vulnerable Populations

Throughout June, the University of Memphis Telehealth for Vulnerable Populations presented webinars for healthcare professionals, clinicians and leaders of community-based organizations. The webinars covered topics such as best practices for delivering telehealth to underserved or vulnerable clients, setting up the home environment for telehealth, telehealth for school-based practitioners and billing practices. The presentations discussed ways to engage caregivers and build rapport with clients virtually, especially when providing care to patients from diverse cultural or religious backgrounds.

SURGE Outreach Teams

In response to rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases in South Florida, Miami-Dade County officials have deployed Strategic Unified Response to Guideline Education (SURGE) Outreach Teams. Surge teams visit neighborhoods associated with zip codes that have recorded spikes in COVID-19 cases to educate residents and businesses about COVID-19 safety protocols, provide information about COVID-19 testing locations and distribute masks and sanitary supplies.. SURGE Team members include county employees, goodwill Ambassadors from the Office of Community Advocacy, faith organizations and community-based organizations like the Dream Defenders, the Circle of Brotherhood, the Coalition of Florida Farmworkers Organization and Chamber South.

Testing Access in Churches

In New York City, a collaboration between the governor's office, 24 churches serving communities of color, and Northwell Health aims to expand COVID-19 and antibody testing access for Black and Hispanic residents, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The churches provide space for testing, the governor's office provides general staff, supplies, and personal protective equipment. Northwell Health provides nurses, emergency medical technicians and phlebotomists. Residents can call participating churches to register for an appointment or wait in line, while keeping six feet apart and wearing masks for walk-ins.

These stories are part of the FEMA Best Practice initiative, which focuses on compiling the best practices and lessons learned from communities fighting COVID-19.  To see more stories like this, visit the Best Practices page. For more information on how to help during COVID-19, visit FEMA’s website for information on donations and volunteering.

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Last updated July 21, 2020