DETROIT – Doctors Without Borders is a humanitarian organization known for bringing medical care to conflict zones and nations in need around the globe.
It’s latest assignment is here in Detroit.
As coronavirus has rapidly spread across the world, Doctors Without Borders has gone to multiple areas with unmet needs.
June 24, 2020 update: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 61,953, Death toll now at 5,868
When they looked at the U.S., the situation in Michigan’s nursing homes stood out as somewhere they could help.
“It’s a bit strange, but we realized quickly with COVID-19 that our experience with disease outbreaks around the world would mean that we have something to bring an offer,” said Heather Pagano with Doctors Without Borders. “And that we brought here to Detroit for infection control to help out in nursing homes that are housing some of the most vulnerable people to COVID-19.”
Pagano is the organization’s emergency coordinator and she said it’s work they’ve already done in Belgium, Spain and parts of Italy.
“I have colleagues now in Ecuador and Brazil, that are starting similar projects,” Pagano said. “And we are here now in Michigan and Detroit.”
They’re providing hands on training to improve infection prevention and control, and focusing on staffs’ mental health.
“Disease outbreaks bring out stress in people and so we have our own programs in place to support our staff when they’re in the field and when they come home,” Pagono said. “We brought those same tips and tricks to these facilities to say, ‘This is how we help our staff cope.‘”
While nursing homes have been a point of controversy in Michigan, we’re not alone.
“Nursing home settings have really vulnerable people, but not the same resources as hospitals for instance, and that is a preexisting problem that COVID-19 has just exacerbated,” Pagano said. “But it’s not just an American problem, so I understand that it’s controversial here, but it’s controversial everywhere and I think it’s a problem we as humanity need to think.”
Doctors Without Borders will be helping in local nursing homes until at least the end of July.
They also have teams in Florida working with migrant farmers, in New York working with the homeless and with native american communities in the Navajo Nation.