Catalyst - FALL 2021 VOL 4 NO 2 - Page 15

15

ISSUE NUMBER 2 / OCTOBER 2021

what they're doing. At the clinics, and even some private physicians, people stopped going because of COVID-19. Some doctors for a while still renewed the prescriptions. But after a while, if you don't come in, that doctor's not going to renew that prescription or approve that refill. We started calling people every month that we weren't seeing to find out why they aren't going to the doctor or we can't get their medicine. A lot of people were just scared to go to the doctor, but you can't do without insulin.

Doctor's offices can do telemedicine appointments. Even if you don't have a laptop or a tablet, we can do this over the phone, but sometimes people need help. What we found out was that they didn't have items at home that they needed for these telemedicine visits. Healthcare Georgia Foundation gave us any emergency COVID-19 grant that gave us the resources to make sure that, if you're a diabetic and you don't have a glucometer and test strips at home, we're going to make sure you have those things. When you talk to your doctor, either by computer or over the phone, they're going to ask you for your blood sugar readings. If you've got high blood pressure and you don't have a high blood pressure cuff - and those things are expensive - you can't tell him what your readings at home. So we're going to make sure you get one at no charge. If you called out and say you may be running a fever, but don't have a thermometer, then you can't tell him what your temperature is. So we put together what we called, COVID survival kits. It started out just for the people we serve, which is over 2000 people every year where you have your glucometer, test scripts, high blood pressure cuff, and thermometer.

We're also providing masks and hand sanitizer because those things cost money. We were able to get a donation of tons and tons of hand sanitizer and masks - we had an eighteen-wheeler truck pull up so that if you need paper masks on a regular basis, we can provide those to you. In addition to our clients, we started showing up at the food banks and the drive through food giveaways. It was also a good marketing tool because people that were showing up at these places, they didn't know about MedBank. So in addition to the people we serve, we were providing a service to the community as a whole.

2020 contained not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also brought about a much-needed social justice movement in the summer. How did this movement impact MedBank and how you serve your community?

COVID shined a glaring light on some of the inequities in our system. Um, we serve here in the Savannah community. We have a large Hispanic, Latino population. Um, we see them on a regular basis and we see them seasonally. I know you've heard of the famous Vidalia onion. Uh, they come through here doing onion season to pick onions. And, um, some of them, or most of them are undocumented. They have no insurance. Um, when COVID came along and there was no work, they had no unemployment, they got no stimulus. So I partnered with some young ladies there called us. You, uh, some of them are dreamers. They're the students of undocumented youth association. They go to the local college here, Armstrong and Georgia Southern. And they started taking up donations of food. They started getting money for rent and utility assistance.

COVID-19 shined a glaring light on some of the inequities in our system. We have a large Hispanic, Latino population that we serve here in the Savannah community. We see them on a regular basis and we see them seasonally as they come through here during onion season to pick onions. Some of them, or most of them are undocumented, and they have no insurance. When COVID-19 came along and there was no work, they had no unemployment, and they received no stimulus checks. So I partnered with some young ladies here called SUYA - the Students of Undocumented Youth Association, some of them are Dreamers. They go to the local college here, and they started taking up donations of food, and they started getting money for rent and utility assistance.