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AIDSail staff and volunteers, like many individuals and organizations in the United States, responded immediately to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina who needed medical care.
AIDSail staff and volunteers initially worked with volunteers with Veterans for Peace who had set up a temporary volunteer camp in Covington, Louisiana and who had responded to a call from long time community organizer Malik Rahim, the founder of the Common Ground Collective. Street medics and Covington volunteers set up a temporary clinic in a mosque in the poor community of Algiers in New Orleans Parish, an area that had been spared the major flood damage that most of New Orleans endured. Daily dispatch meetings were held to organize teams of physicians, nurses, EMT's, pharmacists and other volunteers to work in the clinic, to set up day clinics in communities without resources to travel, and to knock on doors and attend to a variety of calls to provide treatment for home bound folks unable to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers came with their tents and sleeping bags, vans and cars filled with medical supplies, while others organized truckloads of medical supplies, food and other necessities to be donated and distributed.
Common Ground Health Clinic was providing medical care to hundreds of people per day, coordinating with the Common Ground Collective who distributed food and supplies. When many of the doctors had not returned to New Orleans, and Charity Hospital, the primary care provider for the underserved in New Orleans, was not reopening, it was clear that ongoing medical services were needed and AIDSail acted as the fiscal sponsor for the Common Ground Health Clinic while the clinic waited for its permanent status as a 501c3 non-profit organization. The clinic is now a permanent fixture in the community, providing medical services from its clinic in Algiers to hundreds of residents per week, providing care through the Latino Health Outreach project and during the initial months following Hurricane Katrina hosted mobile clinics in the 9th Ward, and in Houma and southern Bayous of Louisiana.
The National Cristina Foundation donations provided computers and equipment for clinic administration, but more importantly provided computers which were used for the Patient Assistance program to link patients with social services and drug assistance. Laptops were especially useful for mobile operations in the Latino Health Outreach program and 9th Ward and mobile clinics, and given the limited clinic space allowed physicians, nurses and coordinators to work wherever space was available. Common Ground Health Clinic purchased wireless cards for laptops that did not have them which provided the opportunity for volunteers to use equipment at the auxiliary sites, volunteer housing and even the local internet café when space inside the clinic was filled with patients and providers. Scott Weinstein, RN and a long-term volunteer that undertook clinic administration said "these days, there is no denying the value of computers for medical work, but it has been essential for us with disaster relief as well as coordination for the clinic. We have to be mobile, flexible and efficient - which the laptops assisted us with."
You can visit the website of Common Ground Health Clinic at www.cghc.org and AIDSail at www.aidsail.org.