As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic spreads across the globe, one organization currently in talks with VA as a potential partner is providing helpful information and resources to Veterans and the public. The American Lung Association (ALA) is working to save lives. Specifically, it is improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research.
The virus that causes COVID-19 affects the respiratory system. ALA’s expertise in this area enables the organization to share science-based information to all Americans during this public health crisis.
According to ongoing VA research on respiratory health, Veterans may suffer from respiratory diseases due to exposure to respiratory hazards in combat. Those diseases include lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They place Veterans at greater risk for additional harm from COVID-19.
ALA is working to do several things in light of the pandemic. All are designed to educate the public, including Veterans, on ways to stay safe. ALA also supports relief efforts and provide a forum for individuals to ask questions of experts directly.
The organization is accomplishing these goals by:
- Hosting 30-minute webinar updates every Monday at 1 p.m. CT, which will provide new information on COVID-19 and address questions from individuals living with chronic lung diseases.
- Creating its COVID-19 Action Initiative, a $25 million investment that will work with public and private entities to increase research collaboration and develop new vaccines, detection tests, and treatment therapies.
- Promoting its Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNGUSA) and online submission form for people to ask questions about lung diseases and COVID-19, as well as smoking cessation.
- Sharing up-to-date information on topics such as COVID-19 signs and symptoms, stopping the spread, and addressing myths about lung illnesses on its blog, “Each Breath.”
Working to minimize the risk to all
ALA’s National President and CEO is Harold P. Wimmer. Wimmer says, “We are working to provide information and support to minimize the risk to all. We’re especially concerned about those with a lung disease like asthma, COPD, or lung cancer. After all, those individuals are at higher risk for more severe symptoms or complications from COVID-19.”
Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich is the acting director of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Community Engagement (OCE). OCE supports partnerships throughout VA and VHA. Weistreich spoke to the importance of ALA’s work right now.
“Many Veterans already suffer from respiratory illness and would find ALA’s resources beneficial even outside the context of a global pandemic. During COVID-19, though, these resources are especially valuable. As is the case with partnerships between VA and other nonprofit organizations, ALA can contribute to helping Veterans by adding to the services VA is already providing.”
For more information on ALA’s work, visit www.lung.org.
For more on OCE’s work and partnerships, visit https://www.va.gov/healthpartnerships/.
Randolph C. Moler is a licensed clinical social worker with the Office of Community Engagement.