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EMERGENCY will give the authorities all the help it can to manage the coronavirus outbreak.

We will put our expertise in treating patients in the midst of epidemics, honed in Sierra Leone in the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, at the disposal of the health authorities.

On Friday 6 March, we spoke to the authorities of Lombardy region and offered them our help in managing the coronavirus danger.

We are keeping in contact with other authorities to see whether we can give them a hand at this difficult time.

In Milan, Rome, Piacenza, Naples, Catanzaro, Catania, Varese: 200,000 parcels delivered to people in difficulty with ‘Nobody Left Behind’

Since May 2020, thanks to collaborating local organisationsand more than 1,000 volunteers from EMERGENCY, we delivered 200,000 parcels to over 20,000 people affected by the social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The parcels contained food and hygiene products: essential goods enabled those who had lost their economic income to cope with the crisis. 

As the situation gradually, albeit very slowly, improved, we were able to wind down the projects in Rome, Catanzaro, Catania, Piacenza and Varese in December 2021. 

It continues, however, in Milan for about 2,000 recipients of food aid parcels, which forms the foundational starting point of a new project that concretely supports those who have slipped through the cracks of the public and private social aid network. 

In December 2021, the objectives of the project were transformed: alongside food aid – offered at a time when the aid system was in enormous difficulty – we found it necessary to do our part by committing ourselves to a social intervention:

‘Milano Aiuta’

In mid-January 2022, following an increase in COVID-19 infections, the Municipality of Milan’s project ‘Milano Aiuta’ resumed its service and EMERGENCY once more provided support after being requested to help. 

‘Milano Aiuta’ is a network of aid and services that includes a free delivery service of drugs, food, basic necessities and prescriptions. These are delivered to people who have tested positive for covid-19, are in quarantine, are old or suffer from immune-compromising conditions and therefore at risk of being outside and cannot leave their homes, and to those who, without help, would find themselves excluded from essential services. 

EMERGENCY’s volunteers, in compliance with current contagion-prevention rules, have been delivering groceries, medicines, primary goods and prescriptions to vulnerable people who cannot leave their homes and need help, whose information has been collected by the operators of the municipality’s switchboard which are communicated to us daily.  

The service was first launched on 13 March 2020, during the first national lockdown, and replicated at the end of October 2020. The first phase, which ended in June, involved 320 volunteers from EMERGENCY and the Volunteer EMERGENCY Brigades who delivered 60 tonnes of food and basic necessities and made 6,370 home shopping deliveries, helping over 3,000 households, with an average of over 100 deliveries per day. 

Our support  to migrants and  homeless people

It involves monitoring in shelters for homeless people and unaccompanied migrant children within the SIPROIMI (formerly SPRAR) system, including intermediary shelters and certain gypsy camps pointed out to us by Milan’s municipal government.

The work is managed by two teams from EMERGENCY, each made up of a nurse, a logistician, and a doctor in case of need. The point is to monitor the situation at the centres, see how the spaces are run when it comes to hygiene, safe distances and cleaning, and make sure the government’s instructions are being followed. After doing these checks, EMERGENCY points out any changes that need to be made to keep staff and patients healthy. We also train staff at the facilities on protocols and tutorials to follow to help them better manage the emergency.

EMERGENCY will give basic training to Cooperativa Dar Casa, so it can let homeless people go into quarantine in its building on Via Carbonia, in the Quarto Oggiaro neighbourhood.

The project has begun  in collaboration with Milan’s municipal government.

In Bergamo

In Bergamo, an EMERGENCY team made up of 80 medical and logistical staff worked at the Intensive Care Unit at the Field Hospital in Bergamo, operated by the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital.

We have reorganised the areas and patient flowsto reduce the chance of contagion as much as possible. Every detail at the facility is essential to containing the disease. It’s crucial to separate every area, clearly define the places for dressing and undressing, and thoroughly plan any movement of people in advance. We’re offering the experience we gained in Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic, and to do that we’ve brought back some of our staff who were working abroad. We want to do our part at such a difficult time for Italy,’ says Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY.

EMERGENCY helped to construct the facility alongside approximately 300 volunteers, including artisans from the city (carpenters, electricians, plasterers, plumbers and painters), 150 volunteers from Sanità Alpina, and 40 from the logistics department of the Ana Civil Protection.

On 26 May, medical work at the Field Hospital drew to a close. The facility was turned into a clinic for follow-up checks on patients with the virus in need of monitoring.

In Brescia

We worked with the Health Department at Brescia hospital to protect healthcare personnel and the hospital from contagion.

In Piedmont

From May to July 2020 we supported project at state-run care homes – among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 medical crisis in Italy – where we provide training, advice and monitoring to protect the health of both their residents and their staff.

With a team made up of a nurse, a logistician and an EMERGENCY doctor, we carried out inspections and monitoring interventions, providing health and logistic consultancy and sharing specific protocols on sanitation, prevention, management of dirty-clean flow, compartmentalization measures, correct management of spaces, sanitation of environments, prompt observation of guests, detection of symptoms compatible with Covid-19 and isolation of positive cases.

The project was run in collaboration with the regional government of Piedmont and Confindustria Piemonte.

“Domiciliarità Project”

A service thought for people who are over 65, lonely, who quarantined themselves, vulnerable and at risk of movement: the health emergency caused by COVID-19 has forced people within the walls of their homes for many weeks. For some, more than others, it meant complete isolation and impossibility to carry on with most of the ordinary habits such as going to the supermarket, going to the pharmacy or finding basic and important items. In several Italian cities, we have worked hard with a network of volunteers throughout the country to make up for the isolation of people, by activating a free delivery service of goods, medicines and basic items. In accordance with all the preventive measures against risks of  COVID-19 contagion throughout our activity, we have shortened distances, coming out all together stronger than before.

Our projects in Italy

We have not stopped over the last few days. We will go on working at our clinics in Italy, using a triage method to identify patients with symptoms that could point to the virus. We will also continue providing information, consultations and direct them to the services they need, all for the good of public health.

A lot of the patients we already help in Italy are among the most vulnerable people in society – like migrants, homeless people and travellers – and they are struggling even more now to get services. Information is crucial for people like them, who often lack access to basic information on how to prevent contagion. EMERGENCY has provided information to our staff and patients from the World Health Organization along with its guidelines and resources.

Information and prevention among minority groups

During this health emergency, it is essential not to exclude anyone from information – and therefore from prevention. Immigrant communities have the same risk of contagion as Italian citizens: for this reason, even those who do not speak Italian have the right to receive instructions on how to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus

We do this – for example – with short videos recorded in different languages, so that even at distance everyone can be updated on what action must be taken to prevent further outbreak. Even a tutorial that circulates via WhatsApp can encourage virtuous and responsible behaviour.

These tutorials are available also on Youtube:

Our projects around the world

In all our projects around the world, we have activated specific protocols to prepare for the arrival of the virus, even in countries not affected by the pandemic so far. Through specific staff training, the formation of triage areas, and the compartmentalisation of spaces and patient flows, we will be able to intercept suspected cases, report them to the health authority responsible, and minimise the risk of infection within our facilities.

What we can all do

Every one of us can help right now to halt the spread of the virus, by following the medical authorities’ instructions to the letter. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep a sensible distance from other people and avoid going out and having contact with them unless absolutely necessary.

You can find all the instructions and information you need at the Italian Ministry of Health’s website: Please do also pay attention to advice published by the WHO and local health authorities.

Everyone must play their part if we are to protect society as a whole.

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