As of May 29, at least 1,441 people have contracted COVID-19 in Tamaulipas state. MSF opened the treatment centers in coordination with local health authorities to help prevent the health systems from becoming overwhelmed and to avoid overcrowding of severe COVID-19 cases in other hospitals and treatment centers. Both treatment centers were set up in Tamaulipas State University basketball gymnasiums. The centers will be managed around-the-clock by MSF health staff. Both facilities have 20 beds and oxygen concentrators to care for patients with severe symptoms.
“We are here with the objective to help people cope with a complex and difficult situation, and we are going to offer them dignified and humane treatment as well as adequate medical care based on MSF’s experience [and knowledge],” said Citlali Barba, MSF medical referent in Matamoros.
MSF has also created an isolation area inside the treatment center in Reynosa for people who are deported from the United States and suspected to be infected with coronavirus. This gives people a safe space to be quarantined until MSF medical teams can either confirm that they do not have COVID-19 or until they have fully recovered from the disease.
The center in Matamoros will also care for patients with mild cases of COVID-19 who are unable to isolate at home.
In addition to medical and nursing teams, both centers will employ staff trained in mental health care, health promotion, and social work to provide patients and their families with comprehensive health care services. These services will be offered over the telephone to patients and in a safe area in the treatment center to their families.
“For MSF, safety is a priority and this project is no exception,” said Dr. Emma Picasso, MSF’s project medical referent in Reynosa. “We have ensured that our teams have all the necessary [personal] protective equipment and all staff have had training so they know how to use it [correctly].”
MSF has also launched a phone line to provide mental health care to survivors of violence and people who have suffered emotional trauma as a result of the outbreak.
MSF is in direct and constant communication with health authorities in both cities so that they can refer patients to the centers. MSF will continue to provide comprehensive health care to migrants, asylum seekers, and victims of violence in Matamoros and Reynosa.
MSF also runs a treatment center for moderate cases of COVID-19 in Tijuana, Baja California. MSF has provided comprehensive health care to survivors of violence in Reynosa since 2017. In 2018, MSF started providing health care to asylum seekers and returnees in Matamoros. In 2019, MSF provided 7,987 medical, psychological, and social work consultations in Matamoros and Reynosa.