Doctors for Change

1,563 supporters

    Started 3 petitions

    Petitioning Governor Abbott

    Texan Health Professionals Call to Release People in ICE Detention Vulnerable to COVID-19

    Governor Abbott,Texas Senators and Representatives,ICE Field Offices in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio, We are healthcare professionals and trainees serving Texans during the COVID-19 crisis. We are appreciative for the vital public health measures and guidance that you have taken to protect Texans during this pandemic. We urge you to take action to ensure these same public health measures in the immigration detention facilities that form a part of our community. As COVID-19 continues to spread through our communities, we fear that conditions in detention facilities will endanger thousands of lives inside and outside of ICE detention facility walls, and potentially overburden nearby hospitals and health care systems during the pandemic.  We are extremely concerned about the spread of COVID-19 amid the detainees and staff across detention centers in Texas. In March, a staff member at a Houston contract detention facility tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, there have been 6 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 among personnel working in ICE detention facilities, and 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases among detainees across the country. Already in the past, Texas ICE facilities have had outbreaks of infectious diseases in the past as a result of overcrowding and inadequate sanitation and health measures. As COVID-19 spread within detention facilities continues, and worsens, there must be mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of detainees and facility staff. Additionally as health professionals, we see firsthand that fear of local ICE enforcement deters immigrants in our communities from seeking out medical care, which at this time means crucial COVID-19 testing and treatment. On March 18, ICE released a statement that it “will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.” ICE must clarify how they will curb local enforcement practices so that our immigrant patients are not afraid of punitive measures if they access care. As your constituents and as experienced health professionals, we urge you to: ●  Release individuals detained in ICE custody before COVID-19 spreads further. ICE and CBP must work with local public health departments and health experts to coordinate release of 1) non-violent individuals and 2) individuals with underlying health conditions that put them at risk for COVID-19 in detention facilities●  Urge that ICE ensures its facilities implement 1) regular hand washing and showers with sufficient soap and hand sanitizer for detainees and staff, 2) protocols for COVID-19 testing, humane quarantine, and hospital transfer if an individual is exposed to the virus, and 3) reassignment of detainees to spaces to allow for physical distancing in line with public health expert recommendations.●  Clarify local immigration enforcement practices during the COVID-19 crisis, and halt operations that will be high risk for infection spread. ICE must 1) communicate steps it has taken to change its enforcement activities during the crisis, and 2) limit in-person enforcement exercises and check-ins that could pose high risk for COVID-19 community spread. We believe these steps are crucial in Texas’ response to COVID-19, but actions cannot stop there. We also ask that there are accountability measures in place to ensure these steps are taken, such as regular inspections and collaboration with community partners and public health departments to oversee these changes. In order to best continue to care for our communities during this ongoing crisis, we must ensure and publicize widely in communities that immigrants do not need to fear repercussions if they seek out medical care for their illnesses. We are hopeful that Texan officials will take these necessary steps to slow COVID-19 spread, save lives, and prevent escalation of this public health emergency. Sincerely, Doctors For Change, Immigrant and Refugee Health CommitteeHouston, TX  

    Doctors for Change
    1,043 supporters
    Petitioning Honorable Lina Hidalgo , Mayor Sylvester Turner

    A Multidisciplinary Medically Underserved COVID-19 Task Force in Harris County is Needed

    March 30, 2020Honorable Lina Hidalgo Harris County Judge 1001 Preston, Suite 911 Houston, Texas 77002 Mayor Sylvestor TurnerHouston City Hall901 Bagby StreetHouston, Texas 7702  Re: COVID-19 Response Dear Judge Hidalgo and Mayor Turner, We applaud you and your teams in Harris County for your tireless efforts to keep our community safe during this unprecedented public health crisis. We know you are working around the clock to contain this disease and to disseminate information as it evolves.  As physicians, epidemiologists, public health specialists, and members of Doctors for Change working on the frontlines in our county’s largest publicly funded healthcare system, we urge attention to our medically underserved patients who often lack of access to health care and health information and are especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors for Change would like to partner with the County in advising on the solutions below. Access to Health Information  Lack of consistent access to the Internet and health insurance limits the ability of around 30% of Harris County residents to receive the latest COVID-19 information online or through their providers. This includes information about social services (emergency housing, food, child care, and other resources). Consistent messaging, delivered through various media outlets, not just print materials, is imperative as we move through each phase of this pandemic.  Innovation in Information Delivery Greater dissemination of health information is possible by repurposing nonessential economic activities for public health purposes. Census 2020 canvassing has been postponed to August. Local elections are being rescheduled to November. A rich, talented, and yet untapped resource of organizers and newly unemployed adults can fuel a public health economy directed by the county health department for outreach to our medically underserved communities. The idea is to implement a promotoras de salud / lay health worker model. In addition, consider leveraging County contracts with local telecommunications companies to increase access to the internet, and use direct in-language phone and text messaging to amplify reach.  Addressing Health LiteracyEnsuring that material on COVID-19 is available to those with limited or low health literacy will protect our vulnerable community members. Online screening, call-center communications, and fact sheets should use simpler language (in multiple languages) and graphics to communicate availability of testing (at low or no cost), appropriate self care and “stay at home” procedures and behaviors. Multidisciplinary Medically Underserved COVID-19 Task ForceFinally, we propose a small and specific COVID-19 task force to address the needs of the medically underserved residents of Harris County. A multidisciplinary team of community, government, private sector, and academic leaders dedicated to these efforts will reduce your workload and ensure we manage this pandemic equitably in Harris County.  While the need is urgent now, we know that the response and lessons we learn as we go will inform how Houston and Harris County respond to health crises in the future. This task force can be leveraged once the pandemic ends to ensure that we are prepared to confront future threats efficiently and equitably.  Please let us know how we can continue to support you in this challenging time.   Sincerely, Doctors for ChangeAmelia Averyt MD, MPH Dona Kim Murphey, MD PhDElizabeth Chiao, MD, MPHMonisha Arya, MD, MPHJudy Levison, MD, MPHPadma Swamy, MDAreana Quiñones, MPH Central American Minors Working GroupPadma Swamy, MD, MPHSarah Howell, MSW, LCSW 

    Doctors for Change
    59 supporters
    Petitioning Sherrif Ed Gonzales, Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Judge Lina Hidalgo, Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, Commissioner Steve Radack

    Houston Area Physicians Call for Release

    March 20, 2020   Sheriff Gonzalez,County Judge Hidalgo,Commissioners Eliis, Garcia, Raddick, Cagle,Criminal District Court Judges,County Courts at Law, We are physicians serving the people of Harris County, practicing in a variety of settings, from community-based clinics to large referral hospitals. We urge the County’s leaders to take swift action today to avert the catastrophic loss of life that would result if and when the Harris County Jail becomes a vector for COVID-19. As the people of Harris County band together and take extraordinary measures to combat the impending wave of COVID-19 cases, we are increasingly concerned about the thousands of patients confined in close quarters in the Harris County Jail and unable to comply with Centers for Disease Control recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Correctional facilities create optimal conditions for an infectious disease outbreak, as evidenced by the mumps scare in our very own jail just this past year. Universities across the state have recognized that dorms of students living in close quarters are too dangerous during the pandemic, yet the jail remains fully-housed. Unlike university dorms, which generally house some of society’s healthiest members, jails house a disproportionate number of some of the country’s most vulnerable populations - individuals with chronic diseases and the elderly - who are at the highest risk for life threatening complications from the virus. People in jail who are at lower risk for severe illness are unable to adhere to the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus - such as social distancing, hand washing, and self-quarantining - and therefore contribute to its propagation. The signatories of this letter believe that all Texans deserve better health and equitable health care. No person--regardless of what he or she is accused or convicted of--deserves to be placed at higher risk of a life threatening illness, especially when reasonable prevention measures are available. The Sheriff and other elected officials are responsible for the health and safety of everyone in Harris County. In the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Harris County Jail is a ticking time bomb that has the potential to devastate the lives of inmates, jail personnel, and others throughout the entire Harris County community. The Sheriff, County Commissioners, and Judges must work immediately to reduce the jail population by thousands of people. Not doing so will undoubtedly lead to the spread of COVID-19 through the jail population, to all who interact with inmates (corrections officers, chaplains, attorneys, counselors, and other service providers) and beyond, increasing the morbidity and mortality of all people in Harris County. The Sheriff, County Commissioners, and Judges should start with the following common-sense policies regarding those individuals who pose no safety risk in the community: ● Release all medically vulnerable people in the jail, including the following: patients with an advanced chronic illness, an immunodeficiency (for example, those with HIV or receiving immunosuppressant medication), as well as anyone else recommended for release by a medical professional;● Release anyone 60 or over;● Release a sufficient number of inmates to guarantee the jail can accommodate adequate social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC. To do this, we recommend releasing those unable to pay bond prior to trial; and● Anyone remaining in the jail should be given uninhibited access to free medical care, available testing, and adequate sanitation practices that comply with CDC recommendations. While it is crucial to release those who are medically vulnerable and at risk of serious complications, officials cannot stop there.  Releasing only those at risk of complications from COVID-19 will have only a minor effect on spread of the illness in the close quarters of the jail. Numbers must be reduced in a significant way so inmates can adhere to CDC recommendations. We firmly believe that these measures will protect all residents of Harris County, and allow us to do our part to flatten the curve of infection.  Judge Hidalgo, Sheriff Gonzalez, and the Commissioner’s court have shown encouraging signs of leadership on this issue. We hope that the larger Harris County criminal legal bureaucracy, including judges presiding over felony cases, can meet this emergency with the urgency it requires. Time is of the essence, these important, life-saving steps must be taken immediately. Sincerely, Marc Robinson, MDCo-President, Doctors for ChangeInternal Medicine Amelia Averyt, MDCo-President, Doctors for ChangeInternal Medicine - Pediatrics Erica Lescinskas, MDInternal Medicine Ricardo Nuila, MDInternal Medicine Jonathan Lim, MDInternal Medicine

    Doctors for Change
    461 supporters