Northwell Health Sends Relief to India as Overwhelming Coronavirus Cases Mount

Northwell Health is readying to send desperately needed supplies, equipment and funds as the country is in the throes of a national health care crisis.

After recently topping 20 million known cases of coronavirus, the resources and finances necessary to respond are becoming scarce. Essential equipment like N95 respirators, personal protective equipment (PPE) and even oxygen is at critical lows – a dangerous combination that is overwhelming India’s public and private health systems and threatening the well-being of over 1.3 billion people.

In response to this need, Northwell Health is providing 1 million KN 95 respirators, 35 ventilators and, in conjunction with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), 1,000 desperately needed oxygen concentrators to the hardest hit areas of the country.

These industrial-grade O2 concentrators will play a vital role in this effort, as these machines can be deployed almost anywhere and essentially pull oxygen out of thin air to be used in treating patients. Similar units were used in field hospitals across the United States when dedicated air/gas systems weren’t possible, making them ideal for this mission.

Northwell has also established a fund to support Northwell’s Center for Global Health, which will direct all financial donations received this month to the AAPI who will leverage their local partner network to distribute the funds to directly and exclusively support COVID-19 relief measures.

All of these efforts are being spearheaded by Northwell’s Center for Global Health (CGH). Established in 2019, CGH partners with Northwell department leadership to develop new programs in its core sites – Ecuador, Guyana, and India – and supports existing programs in their affiliate sites in the Dominican Republic, Kenya, and Uganda. Providers engage in global health activities to help positively impact the health of communities abroad while equipping our providers with skills that inform practice and support patient-centered care globally and locally.

“We’ve been working with our partners and vendors [in the United States] to get supplies donated, to get shipping and cargo and air freight donated, to get the supplies as quickly as possible,” said Eric Cioe-Peña, MD, who serves as the director for the Center for Global Health.

Dr. Cioe-Peña stressed the important role of Northwell Health’s supply chain and logistical support. “We also need to make sure that when we’re sending these supplies, we’re placing them strategically in the country.” He added that due to the size and scale of this crisis, India’s overall landmass and added travel restrictions, many factors come in to play to get these supplies to the hospitals and patients that need them the most.

This is another area AAPI comes into play.

Dr. Shashi Shah, chief of Urology at Northwell’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center and member of AAPI, which represents over 80,000 physicians of Indian origin, has been coordinating between the two organizations to help streamline the process.

“Through AAPI’s network of physicians and our relationships in India, particularly in the health systems, we can align with the right people who can help us make the most informed decisions and get these supplies – and just as important – the funds they need to address this crisis,” he said.

Northwell’s supply run is currently underway as an initial shipment of masks and PPE left JFK International Airport early Tuesday, May 4. They expect the full sum of equipment in country by the end of the week.

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