We are all living in the midst of a global pandemic. Regardless of any opinions we may hold about COVID-19, this virus does not pay attention to our opinions. This is a time when collective impact results in life or death of others and even ourselves and our family members. What we do, or not do, has life limiting and life ending impact.
Verde Valley Caregivers began developing its COVID-19 response protocols in early March with the overall goal of always being able to provide transportation, grocery shopping, reassuring phone calls, care coordination and other essential services. What we do matters for 1,800 or more older adults who have real mobility challenges due health conditions or advanced age. They are high risk for the worst impacts from COVID-19. To continue serving without interruption we must not get or give this awful virus. Every day we are mindful to stay with our protocols of providing Personal Protective Equipment – masks, sanitizer, gloves, forehead thermometers for our staff and volunteers. Every day we provide verbal screening for COVID-19 for all our passengers, volunteers and staff.
We do all of this because we know that to create positive collective outcomes for our neighbors and communities, we must first take full responsibility for our individual actions. We will never cease to work together to help each other.
VVCC has positively impacted the well-being of its neighbors during this time of crisis, keeping them safe and connected to their community.
Made reassuring phone calls
VVCC volunteers and 12 members of the Northern Arizona Retired Nurses In Action (NARNIA) made two rounds of phone calls (during March, April & May) to reassure over 800 neighbors that we are here to help them. Callers also coached and instructed on how to maintain health and safety via VVCC's COVID-19 protocols. Everyday VVCC receives calls from neighbors thanking volunteers and staff for their kindness and thoughtfulness. Here are some neighbor comments:
“It’s like being a part of a family,” said Mary.
“(VVCC) is a wonderful, wonderful organization and I so believe in what you are doing,” said Dorothy.
“I don’t know how this Valley’s residents could get along without you,” said Beatrice.
“Thanks for the very real life-line you have been,”said Roshan.
While neighbors stayed at home, VVCC staff and volunteers shopped for them, making sure they had enough food, supplies, and medications, and delivered food bank boxes. VVCC also purchased and delivered: food and supplies to people instructed by healthcare professionals to quarantine; food for neighbors who are food deprived and severely low income; and a microwave for a neighbor who had no way to prepare her food. Transportation was provided to essential healthcare appointments in the Verde Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Phoenix and for those approved for COVID-19 testing. We averaged 10 and more long-distance trips per week and 500+ trips within the Verde Valley for accessing healthcare providers.
Meeting the growing demand to provide transportation
Now that healthcare providers are performing surgeries and procedures, many of our neighbors are needing to schedule appointments for regular visits and procedures that have been delayed for two months. Some neighbors are also wanting to venture out and do their own shopping. Over 3,470 rides were provided to neighbors since March. Going forward we are projecting 3.300 trips every four weeks.
Provideing PPE and supplies for neighbors and volunteers
Neighbors and drivers are all required to follow VVCC's COVID-19 protocols. We continue to purchase ongoing PPE for staff, volunteers, and neighbors.
Providing Food & Supplies
Our most vulnerable neighbors, those with chronic and underlying health issure, are still staying safe at home requiring ongoing shopping and delivery of food, medications, and other needs.
Connecting neighbors to physicians via telehealth
Establishing a telehealth connection between neighbors and their healthcare providers will assist older adults who are homebound, frail, and/or have mobility issures. Physicians can provide patient care throught secure video visits. VVCC staff and volunteers to be trained to help facilitate neighbors/ use of telehealth devices.
The demand continues to grow for food and transportation. Our Call Center is receiving 1,000 calls per week for services. More neighbors are needing transportation to healthcare specialists in Phoenix, Flagstaff and Prescott. The trips are provided by volunteers and two VVCC vans. VVCC will receive a third van from the Arizona Department of Transportation by October. Additional funding is needed for mileage reimbursements for volunteer drivers, staff and van operations, ongoing PPE needs, and food purchased for the neediest neighbors.