I have had a few requests for information on what we will do in the event of an emergency response. Although no one has specifically defined “emergency response,” what I think that phrase refers to is how we will handle a situation involving a virus, or event, like COVID-19.
MOWGLV does have a Disaster Recovery Plan, though it needs to be updated. That is on my desk to do over the next few months. If that seems like a long time, it’s really not. For one thing, a final plan would need to be reviewed by our Board of Directors. That body meets again in April. A second reason is that there are some partners that need to be involved in the plan development, and that involves a few meetings.
I did have one of those meetings this week. I met with Thomas McGroarty who is the Emergency Preparedness and Response Coordinator for the northeast region of the PA Health Department. Both Lehigh and Northampton County Meals on Wheels were listed as a site for the dispensing of oral medication in the event of an emergency. Tom and I met to discuss details around MOWGLV continuing to participate in that plan. The premise is that we serve a large population of people who will have trouble getting to a site where medications would be dispensed to the larger population—also known as “medical countermeasures.” Hypothetically speaking, think of the need to get medication in the event of an outbreak of anthrax. People who are mobile could go to a variety of places to get medicine, but our clients cannot. In this example, our volunteers could offer oral medications to clients when they deliver meals.
I don’t want to use the above example as a jumping off point for the logistics of responding to a particular situation. It is just an example of a partnership that we will have in place as part of our emergency preparedness.
This week has included much media attention around COVID-19 and its spread to the United States. What seems to be the prevalent advice from the Center for Disease Control, is the following—which applies to any situation which might limit your ability to move about freely in the face of this type of virus:
- Make sure your shelf stable foods are current and sufficient for a few days of use;
- Don’t wait until the last minute to refill any prescriptions. You should have a 30 day supply on hand.
- Have household essentials on hand—laundry detergent, etc.
- Know how to contact your local health department so that you will have a reliable source of news (note: Facebook should not be the “go to” source for news on this topic!)
- Infections disease specialists strongly recommend that you have a current flu vaccination.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay at home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
As far as meal delivery goes, we will keep chugging along as long as we have healthy staff and volunteers. I do not anticipate that COVID-19 will affect our daily operations.
Please reach out to me or MOWGLV staff, if you have any questions or concerns.
— Vicki Coyle, CEO