Community Partners International Launches COVID-19 Home-Based Care Project to Help Relieve Pressure on LA County Hospitals
In January, Community Partners International launched a new project in northern Los Angeles (LA) County, California, to provide home-based care to patients recovering from COVID-19, freeing up vital bed space to receive new patients in need of intensive and emergency care. More used to providing health services in Myanmar (Burma)’s conflict zones and Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, this is the organization's first U.S.-based project.
Rapidly rising COVID-19 infections are putting immense pressure on hospitals in Southern California. Intensive care unit (ICU) capacity has dropped to 0% at times. Emergency departments are filling up with COVID-19 patients and are struggling to provide care for other emergencies.
Dr. Tom Lee, Community Partners International’s Founder and Board Chair, is also an emergency medicine physician and has spent months on the front lines of LA’s COVID-19 response.
“The challenge for LA County hospitals is that they can’t discharge recovering COVID-19 patients unless they are confident that they will receive suitable home-based care,” explained Dr. Lee.
This is where Community Partners International and partners are stepping up to help. Together, they are coordinating a network of home-based care volunteers that help COVID-19 patients in recovery to use oxygen concentrators donated by Direct Relief. They are training the volunteers and equipping them with personal protective equipment (PPE) so that they can serve patients safely and effectively. The patients receive home visits from the volunteers to check on their progress and, when they no longer require oxygen support, the volunteers collect the equipment so that it can be sterilized and used again.
The project is now distributing about five oxygen concentrators each day to patients recovering at home from COVID-19 in northern LA County.
“Providing home-based care allows patients to return to the comfort of their homes and safely continue their recovery,” explained Dr. Lee. “And, crucially, it opens up bed space in hospital for other patients who need urgent care.”
Community Partners International’s project draws inspiration from a COVID-19 home-based care project that the organization is leading with Rohingya refugees from Myanmar (Burma) sheltering in Bangladesh.
“In Bangladesh, we’re working in the world’s largest refugee camp.” explained Dr. Lee “It’s incredibly cramped and crowded. People can’t physically distance and they lack adequate hygiene supplies and sanitation services.”
Community Partners International trains and equips teams of Rohingya volunteers who educate fellow refugees on how to safeguard against COVID-19 and provide home-based care for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
“The Rohingya volunteers don’t have as much equipment or support as the volunteers here but they are providing equally important services in the most challenging circumstances,” emphasized Dr. Lee. “And this model of home-based care is essential in both locations to support patients as they recover and relieve pressure on medical facilities."