It’s hard to believe that an animal-borne disease from the other side of the world has, over the course of four months, spread to more than 200,000 people in 156 countries across the globe. For those of us in the United States, it has completely changed the way we live over the course of the last two weeks.

Now, as we sit in our homes and practice keeping a 6-ft. distance from each other, it’s hard to know when this pandemic will end. The beauty of a time like this lies in finding ways to support each other while keeping a safe distance. To remember moments of humanity in the middle of the storm.

At Medical Teams International, we’re right in the heat of it. The Coronavirus COVID-19 first entered the U.S. in the Seattle Metro area – home to one of our U.S. offices and the vulnerable populations we serve through our Mobile Dental Program. As we shut down travel between our Seattle and Portland offices and began working from home, we braced ourselves as COVID-19 slowly made its way to Oregon and across the United States. Now, we watch with the rest of the world from our homes, looking for a way to protect vulnerable populations in our community. We’re finding a way to shed light in the darkness.

As an international medical nonprofit, we don’t often see crisis in our own backyard. But we are prepared. We’re doing what we do in any emergency situation – we are taking action.

People in crisis – the people we serve – are the most vulnerable during a pandemic like this. The elderly, the sick, those without jobs or income — they are at higher risk if they can’t access care. In other parts of the world where we work – such as refugee camps – health systems are already strained. People live in tents that are feet apart, making a highly contagious virus hard to contain. 

In the middle of this crisis, there is hope.

Here’s a look into how we’re bringing healing in this hurting world:

1. Personal Protective Equipment to Local Hospitals

As health care workers across the Pacific Northwest run dangerously low on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), we’ve donated tens of thousands of masks, gloves and other essential supplies to regional hospitals.

In Guatemala, our team received a regularly-planned shipment and donated the supplies to a regional hospital to help protect their staff and care for COVID-19 patients. In Uganda, we’re equipping our team with PPE and COVID-19 screening information. We need our medical care providers to stay healthy as they care for people in crisis.

Our HQ staff member Jason helps prepare PPE for shipment to hospitals in the Pacific Northwest
Our HQ staff member Jason helps prepare PPE for shipment to hospitals in the Pacific Northwest.

2. Strengthening Health Care Systems – Locally and Internationally

Every day, we are finding new ways to support health care providers around the world. In the Pacific Northwest, Mobile Dental Clinic vans are being stripped and prepped so they’ll be ready to serve as bases for mobile COVID-19 screening test sites. Drive-thru screening sites are becoming a valuable resource as we’re fighting to reduce the burden on emergency rooms and keep hospitals safe from the spread of COVID-19.

In Tanzania, we’re providing support to our partners managing local health facilities. Since COVID-19 is already in Tanzania, we’re mobilizing our medical personnel to provide support for overwhelmed facilities, providing safe transfer of COVID-19 symptomatic patients in ambulances and more. 

We’re working on a way to host mobile emergency dental clinics in the Pacific Northwest so that emergency rooms can be available for those in critical need.

Photo (right): Our U.S. Programs staff work to prepare Mobile Dental Clinic vans so they’re ready for mobile COVID-19 screening sites.

3. Doctors on the Front Lines, Ready to Care for COVID-19 Patients

In Bangladesh and Uganda, where we provide direct medical care, we’re strengthening our existing health facilities to manage the increased caseload we anticipate will come with the spread of COVID-19. Our medical staff is working to treat and isolate patients, including testing for COVID-19. Our medical staff and volunteers will continue to provide life-saving care in the middle of this crisis.

Our nutritionist Monica provides recommendations for care for 16-month-old Namara in Uganda, who is severely malnourished
Our nutritionist Monica provides recommendations for care for 16-month-old Namara in Uganda, who is severely malnourished. Medical Teams will continue to provide life-saving care while preparing the local community for a COVID-19 outbreak.

4. Strengthening Communities to Respond 

COVID-19 is affecting families around the world. To help protect families and vulnerable populations, our staff are working to strengthen the capacity of communities to respond. Our Community Health Workers are at the forefront, providing specific COVID-19 awareness and prevention messaging, providing community care, checking in on affected communities and helping with tracing and medical referrals – in case testing and treatment are needed. Part of this care includes creating COVID-19 preparedness kits to be distributed by Community Health Workers, monitoring mild COVID-19 cases and identifying home isolation techniques. 

Things are changing every day across the world with COVID-19. The way we respond will evolve as the situation evolves. We believe this is what we were made for – to provide emergency health care where it is most needed. To help strengthen and protect vulnerable communities around the world by providing them with the resources and information they need to keep their families safe.

In the face of fear, we choose hope because we believe the dignity of human life is worth fighting for.

We can choose hope in this time because we know we’re not alone.

We have faith that God will see us through this time. That whatever comes our way, He will give us the strength to move forward in faith – one day at a time. We know this all will end one day, and until it does – we will press forward, putting His love into action. We were made for such a time as this. And so were you.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2

You can help vulnerable, high-risk people around the world facing COVID-19 by giving here.