By Emily Drooby
When the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March 2020, one dedicated team of experts from SOMOS Community Care quickly took charge to help the highly affected Latino and African American communities.
Now, SOMOS, a network of physicians committed to helping immigrant communities, has been sharing its healthcare model, expertise and altruism with other areas of the United States.
“As an expression of gratitude for states having collaborated with New York at the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo asked us to send qualified personnel to Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia,” said Mario Paredes, the CEO of SOMOS Community Care.
In many of these areas, their help was much needed.
“There, we found a lack of access to healthcare services, in this case, testing. Information on education — on how to behave at home, what to do with the kids, grandparents — doesn’t exist, or is very limited,’ explained Dr. Ramon Tallaj, the Founder of SOMOS Community Care.
“That’s why we have this problem, that so many people are getting infected in these places: because people haven’t been educated about the situation, as they were in New York, for example, where we were at the forefront from the beginning,’ he added.
In Houston, Texas, where a significant part of the population is comprised of Latinos and African Americans, SOMOS set up walk-in clinics. There, they treated over 3,500 patients, many of whom had been struggling to even make appointments for testing.
“They were happy to come in and happy to see people that will speak their language, that won’t ask for an I.D., that were welcoming them into the centers,” said Dr. Yomaris Peña of SOMOS Community Care. “So, it was very amazing to bring this opportunity to these states, and they were extremely grateful.”
Medical personnel have also provided health services in Florida, in cities like St. Petersburg, Tampa and Miami Lakes, as well as in Savannah, Georgia, where many undocumented immigrants have trouble accessing the healthcare system.
“At each of the sites, we have anywhere between three and five staff members that help on a daily basis with setup of testing, with registration, handling of the samples, obtaining the samples, making sure they reach the lab, and then calling every single patient with their lab results, regardless of them being negative or positive,” said Dr. Jacqueline Delmont, the Chief Medical Officer of SOMOS Innovation.
The SOMOS healthcare model during the coronavirus pandemic is multifaceted. All services are provided free of charge, in keeping with the altruistic spirit of the organization.
SOMOS has also been working with the Catholic Church to distribute meals. It has even set up a call center in three languages for those in need of information during the pandemic.