COVID-19 has created uncharted waters for many in the healthcare field here in Florida. Despite this, The ALS Association Florida Chapter’s mission has not been altered. We remain focused on discovering treatments and a cure for ALS, while serving, advocating for, and empowering people affected by ALS to live their lives to the fullest.
March 16, 2020, marked my first day as Director of Care Services with the Chapter, as I stepped into my role right in the midst of the crisis, I did not feel anxious, scared, or intimidated. It was the opposite, I felt a need to act fast, a need to fight and to protect the community of those we serve. There was not a sense of panic because I know we have a strong team to continue to lead the fight for ALS and now COVID-19.
Although COVID-19 has altered some of the ways our Care Services Department delivers the Chapter's programs it has not halted them. It remains a priority for the Florida Chapter to safely deliver our programs and services and meet the needs of the ALS Community in ways that accommodate the surrounding circumstances of this pandemic.
As a result, virtual support group meetings have replaced in-person support group meetings; our visiting volunteers’ program has been modified to a phone friends program; and, our annual Hope and Help Symposium will be presented on a virtual platform this year. I have told myself, if there is a silver lining anywhere during this crisis, it is that we are fortunate enough to live in a time where technology has evolved immensely and allows us to stay connected and informed virtually. Ultimately growing our reach and connection across the state!
During a time where the world has been advised to slow down, stay home, and follow strict guidelines, we recognize that ALS has not slowed down. The Chapter continues to team up with some of the best ALS physicians and clinics in the country and are excited to be participating in ALS telemedicine clinic visits. Telehealth visits continue to provide specialized care that is so important in managing this diagnosis.
Financial Assistance Programs remain in place on a quarterly basis and, while non-urgent requests from our Equipment Loan Program have been suspended, we continue to respond to urgent requests if we can identify safe options for accommodation.
When I started in healthcare 15+ years ago it was my personal mission to ensure the delivery of quality services and resources to help those in need to continue to live a quality of life. This is exactly what we do at The ALS Association Florida Chapter and we will not let COVID-19 stop us. I encourage you to reach out to our chapter with any questions regarding your diagnosis and or our programs and services. You are not alone, we are ALS IN THIS TOGETHER!