3 Black Female ER Doctors Launch Free Telehealth Service For Marginalized Communities To Deal With COVID-19

Shared Harvest Fund Founders

There are countless examples of how, during a time of crisis, it is the women in any given community who have risen up to take on the challenge of helping others in need. Right now, as the world is coming to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing medical professionals on the frontlines of this battle, many of whom are putting their own lives at risk for the greater good.

Here in the United States, as research and data continues to pour out through our newsfeeds, one that has become a startling piece of disparity is the evidence that the coronavirus is affecting the African American community the hardest, especially in the South, bringing some important discussions about intersectionality, specifically race and socio-economic status, among leaders looking for solutions.

While the government is working overtime to deal with this crisis, there are businesses, organizations, professionals and other individuals who are stepping out and creating ways to help communities. Enter three mission-driven, community-minded Black female ER doctors, who are putting their experience and passion to good use during the crisis, and are releasing a free service to help connect people in marginalized communities to the resources they need.

Nana Afoh-Manin, Joanne Moreau, and Briana DeCuir are the co-founders of Shared Harvest Fund, a Los Angeles-based fintech platform and an on-demand talent space where skills-based volunteers match up with nonprofit organizations that need their help.

NanaEfua B. Afoh-Manin (BAM) MD, MPH

The founders understood that financial health directly impacts mental health and wellbeing. The student debt crisis and growing financial insecurities have had consequential effects on the growing rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among young adults. Shared Harvest is doing something about that by building a network that promotes wellness, service and student debt relief.

In response to COVID-19, they are launching a free telehealth app and online portal called myCOVIDMD that safely connects individuals to resources in real-time, by real people. The initiative is powered by Community Health Partners (CHPs), a volunteer task force created by Shared Harvest to offer a grassroots and virtual triaging system to reach people that are uninsured, underinsured and/or displaced from a medical home due to COVID-19 and city-wide quarantine.

Together, these resources will offer medical assessments, a crisis buddy, and a virtual provider appointment within 15 minutes. They plan to also provide drive through testing at pop-up community locations with therapeutic guidance. CHPs and other non-medical volunteers involved in the task force will also be eligible for student debt relief or emergency savings funds as a reward for their service through Shared Harvest’s fintech platform.

“It is our goal to minimize the rates of anxiety and fear while building more interconnectedness during this quarantine period, as our nation works on flattening the epidemiological curve and expanding health equity,” Shared Harvest founder, and Emergency Medicine Physician, Nana Afoh-Manin explains.

Joanne Moreau M.D

“Through our student debt relief and emergency savings program, we are investing beyond the immediate crisis to help stimulate the economy and build a robust and culturally inclusive database of civilian skills-based volunteers that can be activated in case of future emergencies.”

The founders of Shared Harvest have a combined 35 years of experience working on the frontlines of disaster and emergency medicine and have realized that the United States health system will reach capacity if there are not more innovative solutions. Shared Harvest’s solution is to activate scholars to help fill in the gaps in our public health system, and also to plan for a more inclusive financial stimulus. The myCOVIDMD app will build upon existing telemedical and video communication platforms, in order to deploy an emergency response that is culturally competent and inclusive in its approach to mobilizing volunteers, engaging marginalized communities, building better financial health in the midst of crisis, and minimizing poor mental health outcomes.

Volunteer CHPs will facilitate 10-minute video screening calls through the telehealth platform with the objective of providing Covid19 screening, wellness and mini-mental health assessments, and matching callers with a Crisis Buddy for future real-time news updates, and offer compassion to those who are sick and shut-in. Nonprofits and small businesses may access and book webinars on Covid19 for their remote teams through myCovid19.live. Shared Harvest’s volunteer providers will host these webinars and Q&A.

Briana DeCuir, MD

The program will also target services for the homeless population and for persons reliant on shelters. In exchange for volunteering, CHPs will be able to accumulate credits towards their student loans or deposit credits towards an Emergency Savings account. Shared Harvest will seek to have deposit and loan credits matched by financial partners and foundation grants. CHP volunteers will be rewarded up to $5,000 in student debt relief or $2500 deposited into an Emergency Savings Account.

The Shared Harvest founding team know full well that in order to tackle this virus effectively and flatten the curve beyond #stayathome orders, solutions must look at helping out the marginalized who don’t have the same access to resources as others.

“What’s unique about my training as an ER doctor is that I’ve learned quickly that no patient can be left behind. You see anybody and everybody on the front lines. And so when it came to this public health crisis, we had to think the same way. The only way we are going to make sure that no individuals are left behind is to get into the community, meet them where they are, and provide the services they need so that we can stop this virus,” said Nana Afoh-Manin.

Learn more about myCOVIDMD by visiting the website today.