A NOTE FROM URBAN HEALTH PARTNERSHIPS ON COVID-19
Dear UHP partners,
On behalf of our entire UHP team, we wish you and your families health and safety during these times. As a public health organization, we obviously take the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously and we are doing our part to support the health and well-being of our staff, partners, and the communities we serve. Please read below for information on the policies and processes we’ve put in place, as well as, resources for taking care of ourselves and our communities.
UPDATE: On March 16, 2020, we declared a work-from-home policy for all UHP employees through March 31st. As of March 20, 2020 we have extended our work-from-home policy through April 17th for for all UHP employees.
Why work from home?
We are promoting the practice of social distancing within our staff and with our partners and communities in order to help curb the spread of the disease. Implementing protective measures will help “flatten the curve” and reduce the amount of cases that end up requiring medical care to a level that is manageable by our healthcare system.
We will reassess the policy and the possibility of any extensions in the upcoming weeks as more information becomes available and update our partners accordingly. UHP has thrived over the years utilizing a virtual model of operations. As such, we believe the systems and processes we already have in place and the experience of our team members in working effectively remotely will allow us to continue to successfully move forward with our initiatives and projects.
Our team will be adjusting to the changes over the next few days, including following up with partners and funders to develop an action plan for any project activities that are impacted. While we do not anticipate any issues during this transition, we do ask for your grace as various staff members will be managing not just professional, but also personal, changes in schedule and operations. If any concerns do arise, please contact UHP CEO/Executive Director, Dr. Andrea Iglesias at Andrea@urbanhp.org directly to ensure that any issues can be promptly addressed.
TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES, EACH OTHER, AND THE MOST VULNERABLE: PRIORITIZING EQUITY IN THE COVID-19 RESPONSE
During this time, we also want to remind everyone to be extra conscious of the needs and challenges that will especially impact our most vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. From lack of access to healthcare, food, and other daily needs, to financial burdens most families aren’t prepared to manage- this pandemic is likely to have a far-reaching impact on the health and well-being of our communities. Let’s ensure that we are all working together to collectively mitigate the significant harm that will be experienced. With equity as a core guiding principle for UHP, we can assure you that we will not only be fierce advocates for our communities throughout this time, but we will also continue to work with the members of the communities we serve to build the healthy and vibrant communities they deserve. Important considerations or steps of action in support of an equitable response:
• Do it for the greater good. This isn’t just about individuals. Our collective practicing of evidence-based prevention strategies (washing hands, social distancing etc.) is also about the greater good. By preventing the spread of the coronavirus, we prevent serious illness and even death for those who may be vulnerable due to other existing health issues, age, lack of access to healthcare, and the inability for our health care system to respond effectively if they are overwhelmed.
• Continue to fight the “-isms.” We may be in a global state of emergency, but this cannot be the time we stop fighting against racism, sexism, ableism, classism, and ageism (and the list goes on). Structural inequities will only be exacerbated during a time of crisis when people consciously or non-consciously make all kinds of decisions about whose health and well-being matters and should be prioritized. As communities and organizations, keep your eyes open as you navigate your response to the coronavirus- you may find inequities in your systems and emergency response that you weren’t aware of (we already have!).
For example, racism and violence has been perpetuated against Asian and Asian American people as a result of both explicit and implicit bias surrounding the virus. Address these acts of racism in a public way and in your day-to-day lives. You may have also heard comments such as “oh it only affects older people.” Older people are (of course) just as worthy of our care and protection. And that older adult is someone’s parent, child, grandparent, family and friend. Not sure how the coronavirus may impact those with disabilities? This is a great article that outlines some important considerations: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewpulrang/2020/03/08/5-things-to-know-about-coronavirus-and-people-with-disabilities/#b2c28a71d21f
• Working virtually but equitably. Allow people to work from home as much as possible for their own self-care and the well-being of others. For those that cannot work from home due to the nature of the work, find a way to continue to pay them without them having to use valuable sick and vacation time for as long as you can. Most families do not have the savings to sustain them through weeks without work. Keep in mind there may be barriers to working virtually including lack of access to technology and to internet and lack of childcare with schools closing. While the latter impacts both parents, it may certainly impact women disproportionately, many of which will be expected to somehow continue to work at the same rate and pace while also homeschooling/caring for their children or family members. Grace, flexibility, and an awareness of our biases and privileges must be practiced.
• Social distancing, not social isolation. Find ways to stay connected and engaged with others-whether it’s your family, friends, or your community. Check in on people and ask how they’re doing. Social distancing, while imperative during this time, can also lead to social isolation which many of the most vulnerable in our communities are at higher risk for. Social isolation is linked with a wide range of poor physical and mental health outcomes and many individuals may have already been struggling before coronavirus came along. Reach out and let people know they’re not alone. And take care of yourself by remaining connected. To learn more about the psychological impact of social distancing and ways to cope, check out this article from the American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.
• Empower, don’t dictate. Ask people what they need and want and don’t assume that you know. Co-design your emergency response with those who it impacts. It will be more effective and build more collaboration and stronger systems for the future.
• Take Action. Consider donating to local food banks working in vulnerable communities or to non-profits that work in support of disenfranchised communities. When you can, and it’s safe to, consider buying from local small businesses and restaurants to help them mitigate the extreme losses from closure or limited hours.
It is also extremely important to advocate for health justice at this time. What can this advocacy look like? Reach out to your elected officials to support important policies that emphasize equity and the support of the most vulnerable. Here are some examples: https://www.policylink.org/
SPREAD INFORMATION AND AWARENESS NOT FEAR
Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 news (though make sure to take breaks for your own self-care). It is important to keep track of credible news updates from reliable sources and to refrain from the spread of rumors and false information. Please check below for important resources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Florida State Department of Health:
- Miami-Dade Government Print Resources Available in 3 Languages (English, Haitian Creole, Spanish) About Prevention and Symptoms:
- Miami-Dade County Government COVID-19 INFORMATION & UPDATES
- Broward County Government COVID-19 INFORMATION & UPDATES:
PALM BEACH COUNTY
- Palm Beach County COVID-19 INFORMATION & UPDATES:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO) & the Coronavirus Outbreak
5 Things To Know About Coronavirus And People With Disabilities
- Keeping Your Distance to Stay Safe
- THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS: Flattening A Pandemic’s Curve: Why Staying Home Now Can Save Lives
- A Call to Action: Comprehensive Public Health and Economic Supports