COVID-19: Response in the Americas
The Bahamas country mission closed in October 2020. International Medical Corps responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Bahamas by promoting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and infection prevention and control, and providing supplies. On the island of Grand Bahama, we provided five health facilities with bucket handwashing stations and distributed 14,436 personal protection equipment (PPE) items, including masks, gloves, gowns, sharps containers, aprons and first-aid kits. In sum, International Medical Corps reached more than 15,000 individuals in the Bahamas with COVID-19 awareness messaging and supported six primary health facilities in our pandemic response. In addition, the Bahamas team provided mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services through webinars and TV and radio show discussions on coping with stress from COVID-19, as well as a psychosocial support hotline that provided peer support group activities by telephone. As social distancing measures relaxed in June, the team restarted a community outreach program, providing health and hygiene promotion.
In coordination with Grand Bahama Health Services, we also started new rounds of infection prevention and control (IPC) and disinfection training sessions adapted for COVID-19, reaching 80 health housekeeping staff and more than 100 people from small businesses. In July, we provided mental health training for 20 health professionals and psychological first-aid training (PFA) for an additional 50 health workers. Through an August lockdown, International Medical Corps continued PFA and IPC training, while making improvements to WASH infrastructure, including handwashing stations. The mission is now closed out, with only minor reports remaining.
Although Puerto Rico imposed the United States’ first lockdown in March, and carried out stringent measures to keep the pandemic under control and the island’s underequipped hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, COVID-19 cases have recently been trending upward. International Medical Corps has been responding to COVID-19 by supporting four hospitals with PPE and medical equipment, as well as emergency medical field units that have enabled hospitals to screen more than 4,566 patients to date. International Medical Corps’ Puerto Rico mission adapted its training and community services to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, shifting mental health and nutrition awareness and education activities to remote training, organizing drive-through distributions of relief supplies and increasing its use of social media. To date, the Puerto Rico team has trained 69 frontline staff and supported 28 facilities.
The mission continues to provide PPE to supported hospitals—350,300 items to date—and is working on a new opportunity to support these facilities with additional goods and training. The team in Puerto Rico has reached 1,029,868 community members with COVID-19 prevention messaging over the course of our COVID-19 response on the island, including through an island-wide Facebook campaign.
To help meet a rising need for disaster response in the US, International Medical Corps offers robust domestic response capacity that can quickly provide health and medical care to affected jurisdictions. We maintain mission-ready packages that enable rapid response to meet the medical-surge needs of local jurisdictions, typically within 24 to 72 hours.
As of April 15, there were 31,495,164 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 565,283 deaths from the disease, in the United States. International Medical Corps is responding to the outbreak of coronavirus and COVID-19 in the US by providing expertise, equipment, training, triage and treatment, and vaccination services. Our multi-pronged approach prioritizes areas where healthcare systems and populations are particularly vulnerable. As vaccines become more widely available, International Medical Corps will leverage its decades of experience in cold-chain management and last-mile delivery of vaccines to assist with efforts in the US and abroad. You can learn more about our US Response here.
More than 100,000 Venezuelans have been forced to return to their home country in recent months due to the pandemic, with some walking for thousands of miles after facing job losses and business closures while working abroad because of national lockdowns. Hospitals continue to be understaffed, and the nurses that risk their lives to show up for work take home barely enough money to buy the day’s groceries. International Medical Corps is one of only a few international non-governmental organizations to receive import licensing to support healthcare facilities in Venezuela. As concerns around COVID-19 have continued to grow, our team is participating in coordination meetings with UN agencies, INGOs, key health officials and mayors of municipalities, has been coordinating with directors of health facilities in Miranda state and will be meeting with officials in Táchira and Bolivar states. To meet growing needs, we have imported PPE—including gloves and masks—and inter-agency emergency health kits that include basic medicines, equipment and supplies to provide lifesaving services to 10,000 people for approximately three months.
Our Venezuela team has provided COVID-19 training for 69 frontline staff in 18 health facilities. Since late February 2020, our response has reached 63,132 beneficiaries. We have screened 10,265 patients for COVID-19 to date. As programming accelerates in Venezuela, the International Medical Corps team is continuing to provide critical donations and PPE to the overtaxed healthcare systems, with a total of 14,124 items of PPE donated to date. The team continues to actively coordinate with UN agencies, INGOs, key health officials and mayors of municipalities, and directors of health facilities in Miranda and Bolivar states.