Written by Alhamza R. Al-Bayati, MD
Since its emergence in December 2019, the novel highly pathogenic virus coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become a global health threat. It was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Healthcare workers (HCWs) continued to provide front-line shields while unequivocally exposed to increased risk of infection through direct patient’s contact. A recent study published in Lancet indicated that compared to general public, HCWs had at least threefold increased risk of contracting COVID-19 with a subsequent risk increase in inadequate or reuse of personal protective equipment (PPE).
As the dissemination of COVID-19 continued, the Neuro intensive care units (NICU) were transitioned to dedicated units sheltering mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients. This overwhelming increase on NICU demand took its toll on their frontline workers. In a pioneering effort, SVIN members spearheaded a tremendous initiative and fundraised a campaign that supported NICU workers nationwide providing them with hot meals and showing tough solidarity while supporting local businesses during these unprecedented times.
While some took charge in providing local support with PPEs and volunteering to fill in manpower shortages, this courageous group of neurology residents, fellows, vascular, neurocritical care and neuroendovascular providers brainstormed and put in action plans to provide in additional ways. The core team included: Ruchira M. Jha, MD; Ashotosh Jadhav, MD; Jaydevsinh Dolia, MD; Devin J. Burke, MD; Shashvat M. Desai, MD; Asma M. Moheet, MD; Aarti Sarwal, MD; Danielle Thomas, RN and Kelsey Free, MD.
Few hours after the campaign was publicized on social media portals, overwhelming financial support from medical colleagues and endorsements of multiple societies and influential Neuroscience groups helped fundraising over $10,000! This was immediately implemented in providing hot meals for numerous NICU teams. These ingenuous acts provided moral boost to all the #NeuroHeros during their around-the-clock shifts.
Till date, $30,000 have been raised which provided recurrent support to 57 NICU in 23 state across the United States. This mission is far from over as the core team has been working with smaller local teams to identify local food businesses that can continue to provide meals to NICU crews on regular bases.
With the help of SVIN, Neurocritical Care Society, @YoungNIR, and The AVM and Aneurysm Foundation (TAAF), the support to #NeuroHeros is continuing to express the field’s utmost gratitude to those forefront troops battling all neurological disease in the era of COVID-19.