VIRTUAL ORGANIZING IN THE TIME OF COVID
Like many organizations, we spent a great deal of 2020 working on initiatives that focused on Covid. We launched our BFREE campaign, fighting for Covid tests and vaccines that are barrier-free for everybody. We want tests and vaccines that are fast, reliable, easy and equitable. This issue of the Messenger details this work.
BFREE Town Hall
RCA Chapter leaders worked together to host a national town hall on February 10 to launch our BFREE Campaign. Carleen Sabusap and David Glenn, chapter leaders from Nashville and DC, talked overall about the inequity in Covid testing and other resources. Participants heard from five speakers acoss the country who shared their specific stories about trying to get a Covid test. One student had to drive out of state in order to get a Covid test, and a young woman was unabale to get a Covid test for a few weeks, even though her husband could have gotten one immediately and free – all because he is a student at a local medical school, and she is not. Following the stories, participants broke out into groups to spur action.
Right Care DC
The DC Chapter held another Covid Forum in partnership with Progressive Maryland. The topics covered were: the inadequate vaccine rollout in Maryland and the recommendations of advocates who are calling for a more equitable and effective program; an update on the effort to get Governor Hogan to improve management and support of the vaccine program; methods to help essential workers; and the critical health issues and needs associated with long Covid. The Town Hall ended with a call to action to Governor Hogan’s office to make vaccines for BIPOC residents a priority.
Right Care Gainesville
The Gainesville Chapter has been working on outreach for and helping seniors register for the vaccine by handing out flyers at senior centers, rotary clubs, and writing letters to the editor. Through phone calls to Publix offices, they are trying to get Publix to allow people to walk into any grocery store and be able to register for the vaccine. They also held a town hall on February 17 called The Truth About the Vaccine, which addressed rumors and popular misconceptions about the vaccine.
Right Care Boston
The Boston Chapter held a town hall on March 31 to share stories about the structural inequities and racism around vaccine distribution. Speakers included a disabled mom who had to travel across the state to get the vaccine, a teacher who is also in school herself navigating getting an appointment, a young adult who is homebound, and a physician who treats patients and teaches medical students. Participants then went into small breakout groups to share their own experiences. One participant said, “We all need to be sharing and listening to each other’s stories more, which is why I loved this event.”
The Boston Chapter has also been in discussions with several local churches about starting a vaccine clinic.
Free the Vaccine
RCA joined a protest calling on Moderna along with the U.S. Government to give their patent and vaccines to countries all around the world.
Here’s a picture of RCA member Alan Meyers in his RCA t-shirt and mask at the event
My College Covid Experience
If you have not yet had the chance, take some time and read the Covid@College blog that a team of four college students are producing. Together, they are interviewing, editing, and posting the stories of other students across the country. What is clear from reading these blogs is that every school is handling Covid differently. If you are a college student and want to share your experiences of adjusting to student life in Covid, and how that’s changed over the past year, reach out to us!
Insulin Working Group
The Insulin Working Group has been busy over the past couple of months writing op-eds and letters-to-the-editor about how type 1 diabetes should be a condition that allows priority access to a Covid vaccine. The authors also addressed how hard it is to afford insulin during the pandemic. This group is now starting to plan another story slam focused on the experiences of diabetes parents and parents of kids with diabetes.
Since the start of 2021, study group facilitators have been leading study groups on how the Biden Administration is responding to Covid. They have discussed how and why states are handling Covid testing and vaccine distributions differently, and the inequity within states about who gets the vaccine and when. A recent study group was led by Elizabeth Glowacki and Doly Han to discuss and better understand what’s going with health privacy and data, why, and what we can do about it.
We recently launched a study group for teens so that high school students can talk with each other about their interactions and concerns with the U.S. healthcare system. They’ve met three times so far, and are called Health Over Wealth.
The leadership team of the Patient Council just completed submission of a patient perspective about prediabetes to an editor of the American Family Physician medical journal. The group writes patient perspectives four times per year in support of manuscripts written by primary care physicians descriting an overuse of medical treatments. The goal of the perspectives is to suggest to physician readers of the journal about how they may better understand what patients might be thinking or worried about when over diagnosed and overtreated.
Long Term Care Petition
The Long Term Care Council wrote and is now collecting signatures for a petition standing against the isolation policies and procedures at nursing homes and long term care facilities. The petition calls on long term care facilities to provide comprehensive PPE, Covid testing and other supplies to staff and residents so that the primray caregivers of residents are able to resume visits with their loved ones. The more signatures the better, so sign this petition and pass it along to others to sign!
Mental Health Coffee Hour
Over the last couple of months we have been holding Mental Health Coffee Hours to give members a space to address the feelings and stresses that have particularly come up over the past year. We have dealt with topics like loneliness that impacts mental health and the importance of providing a safe environment forr open conversations like these. This is a new group and we look forward to having more members join us!
We have safer RCA masks! These beauties are red with white design and text and have a triple layer fabric. They also have a wire bridge over the nose for better sealing, which prevents fogging glasses. Masks are $15 for 1, or $12 each for 2 or more masks. Check out Deidre Waxman, leader of Right Care Boston and the Insulin Working Group, in her mask.