EMERGENCY will give the authorities all the help it can to manage the coronavirus outbreak.
We will put our expertise in treating patients in the midst of epidemics, honed in Sierra Leone in the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, at the disposal of the health authorities.
On Friday 6 March, we spoke to the authorities of Lombardy region and offered them our help in managing the coronavirus danger.
We are keeping in contact with other authorities to see whether we can give them a hand at this difficult time.
Our medical and logistics team is working with Azienda Regionale Emergenza Urgenza (AREU) and the medical corps of the Alpini mountain troops to set up a new field hospital purely for treating patients affected by COVID-19. The hospital will be built at Fiera di Bergamo, the town’s exhibition and trade fair centre, and should be fully operational by next week.
We are collaborating on the design for the new facility, offering our experience in managing epidemics, thanks to our work on Ebola in Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015, where we protected staff from contagion. EMERGENCY’s team of approximately 20 people will consist of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and logisticians, who will run the intensive and sub-intensive care wards.
‘We have reorganised the areas and patient flowsto reduce the chance of contagion as much as possible. Every detail at the facility is essential to containing the disease. It’s crucial to separate every area, clearly define the places for dressing and undressing, and thoroughly plan any movement of people in advance. We’re offering the experience we gained in Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic, and to do that we’ve brought back some of our staff who were working abroad. We want to do our part at such a difficult time for Italy,’ says Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY.
We have been contacted by various health authorities in different Italian regions. We are currently working with the Health Department at Brescia hospital to protect healthcare personnel and the hospital from contagion.
EMERGENCY has answered the municipal government of Milan’s call for support services for the city’s people, offering its full help to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Using the government’s platform Milano Aiuta (Milan Helps), EMERGENCY has, as of Friday 13 March, been running a service delivering goods – food, medicine and other basic items – to people over 65, who have been ordered to quarantine themselves, and vulnerable people who cannot risk leaving their homes. EMERGENCY’s volunteers and Brigate di Solidarietà are supporting elderly people and those with chronic or immunosuppressive conditions, who are most at risk and have been advised to stay at home.
The service runs from 9 am to 1 pm, Monday to Saturday. It can be reached by calling 020202 and is completely free of charge. Every case is given a unique code and a level of priority. Calls are passed on by the Milan municipal government to Casa Emergency, EMERGENCY’s headquarters, where a work area has been formed to assign cases to volunteers spread around the city
Volunteers are currently moving in pairs and will wear a badge to identify themselves. All of them have received special training to minimise the risk of contagion to both themselves and the people they are supporting. Volunteers will not provide medical services of any kind.
Our support to migrants and homeless people
It involves monitoring in shelters for homeless people and unaccompanied migrant children within the SIPROIMI (formerly SPRAR) system, including intermediary shelters and certain gypsy camps pointed out to us by Milan’s municipal government.
The work is managed by two teams from EMERGENCY, each made up of a nurse, a logistician, and a doctor in case of need. The point is to monitor the situation at the centres, see how the spaces are run when it comes to hygiene, safe distances and cleaning, and make sure the government’s instructions are being followed. After doing these checks, EMERGENCY points out any changes that need to be made to keep staff and patients healthy. We also train staff at the facilities on protocols and tutorials to follow to help them better manage the emergency.
EMERGENCY will give basic training to Cooperativa Dar Casa, so it can let homeless people go into quarantine in its building on Via Carbonia, in the Quarto Oggiaro neighbourhood.
The project has begun in collaboration with Milan’s municipal government.
In our projects in Italy
We have not stopped over the last few days. We will go on working at our clinics in Italy, using a triage method to identify patients with symptoms that could point to the virus. We will also continue providing information, consultations and direct them to the services they need, all for the good of public health.
Suspension of volunteer activities in Italy
Until this medical emergency in Italy is over, we have decided to suspend all activities by our volunteers in the country.
Right now, we believe that the priority is to reduce risks as much as possible and to support the tireless work of all doctors, nurses and hospital staff, from North to South.
Information and prevention among minority groups
During this health emergency, it is essential not to exclude anyone from information – and therefore from prevention. Immigrant communities have the same risk of contagion as Italian citizens: for this reason, even those who do not speak Italian have the right to receive instructions on how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus
We do this – for example – with short videos recorded in different languages, so that even at distance everyone can be updated on what action must be taken to prevent further outbreak. Even a tutorial that circulates via WhatsApp can encourage virtuous and responsible behaviour.
These tutorials are available also on Youtube:
Our projects around the world
What we can all do
Every one of us can help right now to halt the spread of the virus, by following the medical authorities’ instructions to the letter. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep a sensible distance from other people and avoid going out and having contact with them unless absolutely necessary.
You can find all the instructions and information you need at the Italian Ministry of Health’s website: www.salute.gov.it/nuovocoronavirus. Please do also pay attention to advice published by the WHO and local health authorities.
Everyone must play their part if we are to protect society as a whole.