PROVINCETOWN — The Ptown Covid-19 Task Force came together a month ago as a channel for volunteer energy to help deal with the coronavirus. The pandemic creates challenges across many different dimensions, and the task force is organizing to help with several of them, including an increased need for counseling, a need to serve vulnerable neighbors, and a potential need for health care workers.
More than 100 people have signed up to serve, and the task force hopes to organize them ahead of any sudden need.
One of the task force’s initiatives is a volunteer stress support line, which was activated last week. People facing emotional challenges, anxiety, or stress can call 508-309-5848 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and receive free support from mental health professionals over the phone. Those who would just like someone to talk to regularly can be paired with a buddy, a trained volunteer who can check in with daily calls.
Another team is focused on the physical needs of isolated neighbors — grocery shopping, delivery of prescriptions, even dog walking. These simple tasks are made complicated by the asymptomatic virus. Ensuring the safety of volunteer and beneficiary is paramount, and the medical team used CDC guidelines to develop specific protocols for service.
“How to enter and leave a store, how to pick up a dog or leave groceries — we train our volunteers for that,” said task force coordinator Alison Dwyer. “We also give them PPE [personal protective equipment] kits and training on how to use them.”
The task force developed an association with the Medical Reserve Corps of Cape Cod, partly to help safely screen new volunteers. Both groups aim to organize medical professionals to be able to step into any urgent gaps should they develop.
“The medical team is led by Dr. Scott Adelman, a retired cardiologist who lives here part-time,” said Dwyer, who is a nurse practitioner. “We can serve to the limits of our licenses. That could be staffing a testing site. It could be supporting another agency that calls us.”
“The best possible outcome is we organize all this stuff, and no one needs it,” said Lise King, who helps with administration and communications for the task force. “Rather than a last-minute emergency rush, we felt like, let’s create a bench, get everyone trained and staged, so that if the need does arise, we’re ready to help.”
“We have a great network of support agencies in Provincetown and Truro, which is wonderful,” said Dwyer. “We are preparing to support the support systems, if they get overwhelmed.”
General information is available on Facebook @ptowntaskforce or to volunteer, email [email protected]. For assistance, call Rita Paradise at 508-826-8439 or Michael Brown at 774-994-1650.