Our organization's response to the COVID-19 crisis
NAATPN’s Response to the COVID19 Pandemic
Internal Infrastructure Changes
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAATPN has shifted to new ways and opportunities to address the crisis while maintaining programmatic efforts to reduce tobacco use in the black community.
As of March 11, 2020, all of NAATPN employees were working at home as a proactive approach of social distancing before some localities mandated communities to stay home or shelter in place. Since NAATPN has shifted to an all virtual environment, staff members were to actively set-up their home offices to host and facilitate staff and partner meetings, trainings and other virtual events (Facebook or Instagram live, Twitter chats, etc.).
NAATPN staff has informed all of its partners of the transition to its virtual working environment. NAATPN hosted a kick-off call with its subcontractors for the Advancing Health Equity in Tobacco Nation (AHETN) project on March 9, 2020. In addition, NAATPN will host its first subcontractor virtual training on Friday, April 3, 2020.
Community Engagement in the Midst of Crisis
There are several partners that have found opportunities to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. NAATPN has been having conversations with its partners to brainstorm and strategize on how to help their communities during these unprecedented times. For example, the founder of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, Yvonka Hall, is feeding up to 70 children a day through a volunteer operation to help alleviate hunger. Since schools are closed, children that depend on school breakfast and lunch are often left without appropriate nourishment during the day. Yvonka is using personal funds to provide meals to children who live with disabled or elderly parents. She has shared that most of the disabled parents smoke, which is a great opportunity to share messaging around the importance of quitting smoking particularly knowing the impact that COVID-19 has on the lungs.
NAATPN is developing a palm card to put in the bags of food that are being distributed to families about the importance of not smoking especially because of the devastating health consequences for children from second and third hand smoke. In addition, NAATPN developed a coloring book that has uplifting messages that include reasons for parents to quit smoking.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Vice President and Chief Program Officer for the Urban League of West Michigan, Lisa Knight, has partnered with seamstresses in the community to make masks for healthcare providers. She and her volunteers have made over 100 masks for senior healthcare facilities in the Grand Rapids area. She is also working with the largest hospital system in Grand Rapids to provide handmade masks due to low protective gear for healthcare providers. NAATPN has discussed facilitating a virtual community forum or a Facebook live event to discuss the challenges in the healthcare system amid the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, NAATPN will provide social media and other digital content (e-blast samples, fact sheets, etc.) that can be shared with the Grand Rapids community on protecting yourself during COVID-19 and resources in the area that can be utilized to address tobacco/substance abuse, unemployment, and virtual learning opportunities for children and teens while school is closed.
The Community Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) has had conversations with its network of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to address their concerns during the pandemic which includes disruption to instruction of students, postponement of graduations and last-minute restructuring of the physical classroom to a virtual learning experience. Some HBCU’s have expressed concerns about closing their doors due to the economic fallout that the pandemic has caused. NAATPN will partner with Community Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) to host a virtual listening session with HBCU faculty and staff members to get feedback on their challenges and develop resources based on the information that is shared. NAATPN will also provide resources on how the HBCU community can advocate for appropriate funding or support during this time.
NAATPN is developing a resource hub that will include a range of information from how to locate COVID-19 testing centers, tobacco cessation specialists, employment opportunities, and food distribution centers. This resource will be made available on NAATPN’s website and be promoted through its strategic partners.
NAATPN will host a podcast featuring NAATPN’s Board Chair, Ritney Castine and longtime partner to the organization, Aidil Hill. Each week, new episodes will be featured that will discuss the numerous ways the pandemic has threatened black health including deepening health disparities, spiking financial challenges and heightening social injustices.
NAATPN will develop resources which include e-blasts, infographics and factsheets. Topics will include how African Africans can get out of the high-risk category by taking appropriate medications, losing weight and stopping tobacco use and vaping. NAATPN will also develop content for its partners and community based organizations on creative ways to continue grassroots efforts virtually.
NAATPN is interviewing its partners to gather their stories of how they are addressing the COVID-19 crisis. Their stories will be featured in blog posts that will be sent out via e-blast and on NAATPN’s website. In addition, their blog post will feature their procedure to community engagement especially during times of crisis.
Message from the Executive Director
Although the coronavirus caught many of us by surprise, as an organization, we remain committed to our values. We will continue to operate our organizational and programmatic activities with honesty and integrity, and we will be accountable to our stakeholders and our constituents. As such, there will be no disruption of our services nor our financial commitments to our staff, strategic partners, consultants and grantees.
NAATPN will be flexible and adapt to this new environment, and we will come out stronger as a result.
Our relationships will be stronger. You will hear from us often to see if there's anything we can do to assist you during this time and to share with each other how we're coping.
Our technology will be stronger. We will go virtual with all meetings and trainings until further notice.
Our communities will be stronger. If you're a strategic community partner, we will ensure that there is no gap in the funding we've allocated to you.
We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak carefully and we will be prepared to postpone our biennial conference should that become necessary.
We hope that you stay safe during this time. Please follow the advice and recommendations of your local and national health officials. We will get through this together.