CareSource leaders often say that our partnerships with health care providers are the core tenet of our heartbeat. This past Memorial Day weekend, one leader, in particular, took this principle to heart.
Dr. Beejadi Mukunda, Medical Director of CareSource’s dual eligibility program MyCare® received a call with an urgent request from a small Cleveland-area skilled nursing and long term care facility. Testing had revealed a rapidly rising number of positive COVID-19 cases among their residents. Could CareSource do anything to help support their team? Dr. Mukunda didn’t hesitate. He acted fast in three key steps to make sure the facility’s employees had the protective equipment they needed and a comforting meal to keep their spirits up.
Step One: Mobilizing connections to community resources.
Dr. Mukunda’s next calls were to CareSource's Vice President of Integrated Care, Lisa Lagana, the MetroHealth System and the Cleveland Chapter of Sewa International. The system and the organization rallied to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) including 300 masks, 10 gowns, two boxes of gloves and two boxes of sanitizers.
CareSource’s Ohio market president Stephen Ringel recognizes just how important it is to connect individual facilities with both community resources like Sewa International and larger providers like the MetroHealth System.
“Having a collaborative network of providers has always been a critical component of CareSource’s success,” said Ringel. “Dr. Mukunda did an excellent job leveraging our existing community connections to help protect this vulnerable population.”
Step Two: Lifting the spirits of those serving the vulnerable.
Beyond the much needed PPE, Dr. Mukunda and Lagana prioritized providing meals for the nursing facility staff including nurses and aides, social workers, therapists, activities staff, support staff, maintenance and case managers; all of whom are working to support health needs and socialization to residents during this crisis. Meals were delivered for the whole team on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Step Three: Finding innovative solutions in unique places.
While Dr. Mukunda successfully connected the facility with community partners and provided morale-boosting meals, he still needed to provide more PPE. It turns out, an unexpected supplier lived right under his roof. Dr. Mukunda’s 16-year-old son Krishna leads a group of five student volunteers who plan on printing more than 500 face shields to donate to medical professionals through Sewa International and the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio.
“I’ve been working with 3D printers for about seven years and really wanted to find a way to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Krishna. “Watching my dad work in health care inspired me to look for a way to print medical equipment like prosthetics and now during COVID, PPE.”
Krishna says it takes anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to print about four face shields and he has already donated 150. The first time he tried the design, he felt nervous watching the pieces start to form on the printer.
“I don’t think I looked away or even blinked for almost three hours,” he laughed. “When I finally knew it was going to work, I went to my dad to show him and he was really impressed.”
Dr. Mukunda hopes more people follow his son’s lead to look for innovative solutions to support health care workers during the pandemic.
“I could not be more proud of Krishna and everyone who stepped up to make a difference in the everyday lives of our providers. Since there are no clear pathways established for helping providers and surges can occur anyplace anytime, CareSource is helping with providing educational resources and MyIdealDoc telemedicine resources for patients whose providers do not have telemedicine capabilities,” he said. “We also have a 24/7 nurse helpline for members to call with any questions. CareSource Integrated Team is also volunteering to help in the long term care facilities with tasks such as swabbing, PPE recycling and contact tracing if there are future surge situations.”
CareSource has pivoted its charitable resources to support both front-line health care providers and to meet a variety of community needs around social determinants of health. In March, CareSource announced its initial commitment of $500,000 to help meet immediate needs related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Additional information and resources for providers can be found at www.caresource.com.