In New York City, an early epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, we provided showers, portable toilets, handwashing stations, hygiene kits, and other essentials for people experiencing homelessness. We improved infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in facilities for people who are homeless or housing insecure, and distributed mobile phones to help them stay connected to information about local services.
In Immokalee, Florida, we set up mobile testing clinics for migrant farmworkers, a community at high risk of contracting COVID-19. We also ran a public health education program in partnership with a local human rights group.
In Detroit, Michigan, and Houston, Texas, where COVID-19 devastated nursing homes and long-term care facilities, we offered support to help protect residents and staff, including assessment and guidance to improve IPC practices, as well as technical on-site assistance and training. We also ran mental health workshops for staff.
MSF worked with Native American communities in the Navajo Nation and Pueblos─long neglected by the federal government and lacking access to clean water, electricity, and passable roads. Our teams provided IPC training and logistical and technical medical support in partnership with local groups.
In Puerto Rico, which has suffered from the health impacts of devastating hurricanes in 2017 and a series of powerful earthquakes in 2020, we began a home-based care program for people with chronic conditions unable to access health services during the pandemic. We provided COVID-19 monitoring for people isolated at home and prepared thousands of hygiene kits for those experiencing homelessness or living in remote areas. We supported hospitals and care facilities by distributing personal protective equipment, conducting IPC training, and running health education programs. In October, we handed over the program to Puerto Rico Salud, a new organization established by a group of Puerto Rican health workers who had worked with the MSF team. Puerto Rico Salud is continuing initiatives to meet the medical needs of neglected communities on the island.
Our teams also provided emergency medical and mental health care in New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.