Kate MacLachlan, Communications Associate at Americares, shares her personal perspective of working on our response to the pandemic.
I joined Americares mid-pandemic to work on an important project: partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase vaccine confidence among health care personnel at free and charitable clinics in the U.S. These clinics are a safety net for low-income uninsured people – our neighbors.
Like it has for everyone, the pandemic affects most of my daily life. But my view is unique because my partner is an emergency physician. When he comes home from work every day, we mourn the very personal impacts of COVID-19. We discuss the stress of ventilating a patient, the pain of being the only one at a patient’s side when they die, the heartbreak of informing their family. We acknowledge the overwhelmingly common similarity among those patient stories: they are unvaccinated. We share the pain of seeing tragedy that could have been prevented.
My work at Americares is one way I support my partner’s many sacrifices. In the vaccine hesitancy project’s first year, Americares partnered with free and charitable clinic state associations in 15 states and with federally qualified health centers in Puerto Rico to launch a paid media campaign just for the health care personnel within the sectors. The messaging reached over 750,000 people, providing them access to more than 80 pieces of specialized educational material. This included sharing stories from free clinic workers like Ericka, who went from swearing she would never get vaccinated to vaccinating her father. The personal and the professional have lived side by side in these past two pandemic years.
Throughout the pandemic, Americares has focused our support on frontline health workers around the world, especially those serving low-income, uninsured people in neglected and marginalized communities.
Americares brings its strengths: Over the past two years, Americares responded to COVID-19 in 46 countries and shipped over 17.7 million protective supplies globally, reaching 993 health partners. With local partners, we completed 784 water infrastructure improvements in 11 countries to support community health. We trained over 46,000 people, covering crucial topics like mental health, infection prevention and control, health system strengthening and outbreak preparedness. And at Americares clinics, we continued to care for patients, providing over 630,000 patient visits for people affected by poverty, disaster and other crises.
The pandemic continues to evolve, and one day it may no longer have the devastating impact globally that it has today. But the conditions that make COVID-19 so devastating — poverty, inequity, limited access to health care — will persist. And Americares will continue to improve health, just as we have for more than 40 years.