When the pandemic became very real for LaPorte County, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte (HFL) did what they do best – mobilized resources, gathered the right people around the (virtual) table, began collecting data, and pushed forward with emergency assistance across multiple sectors.
So far, HFL has distributed $681,621 in emergency grants. Beyond those efforts, HFL is working with a host of community partners. HFL has been able to help coordinate responses that have had a massive positive effect in the community in three key areas: coordinating of personal protective equipment (PPE) needs – including purchasing and delivering, developing and maintaining their online COVID-19 Resource Hub and pivoting their Ten2030.org data center to COVID-19 related information.
The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte has a clear vision: to be among Indiana’s top 10 healthiest communities by 2030.
To that end, their online data center – Ten2030.org – has historically been populated with county health rankings and evidence-based programs to assist local organizations with moving the dial on needed areas of health concerns within the county.
When COVID-19 hit, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte quickly pivoted their online data center to become a comprehensive resource for the community. Today, Ten2030.org provides up-to-date information on the vulnerable populations within La Porte County so not-for-profits and government entities can use a data-driven approach to direct resources to those most in need. These organizations can also use this data to support grant requests and other financial plans they are putting together as a result of the pandemic.
Powered by Conduit Healthy Communities Institute and ESRI, Ten2030.org hosts an interactive vulnerability index. Users can click on the map, expand to Indiana, and get at-a-glance information about vulnerable areas in the county. Then, the site allows users to drill down to specific populations. You can get detailed statistics about population sets such as people 65 and older living alone, people 65 and older living below poverty level, population over the age of 65, and households with children living on SNAP.
Any organization or individual can use this website and data center free of charge. Ten2030.org is accessible directly at that site, or through the HFL’s website hflaporte.org.
Community PPE Needs
While healthcare providers and first responders on the front lines of the pandemic continue to show up for work no matter what, they have, at times, scraped for any available resource for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gloves, face shields, hand sanitizer, no-contact thermometers, and more.
Maria Fruth, President and CEO of the HFL, said that the organization is committed to providing resources in this respect, but first wanted to make sure that they are directed where they are most needed.
“We partnered with the United Way of LaPorte County to share data about what resources were being given where, to make sure we are meeting the needs fairly across the county,” she said.
Comprehensive spreadsheets detail the supplies given to and requests received by more than 60 organizations including hospitals, first responders, shelters, physician offices, township trustee offices, and more. Some are for places that people might not realize are desperate for these materials, but that don’t have the buying power to get them in bulk.
“Meals on Wheels is as good example,” Fruth said. “Meals on Wheels representatives have to be able to personally connect with home-bound people to ensure they are getting their meals, but also that they are safe and healthy, and doing well physically and emotionally. They cannot do that without personal protective equipment.”
The HFL has made valuable connections for some scarce supplies, helping to find suppliers in Indianapolis and beyond for things like thermometers, masks, and gloves. They are identifying organizations in need and distributing as needed. “We are tracking requests that come in and sharing information so that when we do identify a need, we know all of the circumstances around it to make an informed decision on what to purchase and where to donate it,” Fruth said. A major focus is placed on not for profits delivering services during the pandemic. The staff and volunteers of those organizations are also on the front line, attending needs such as food distribution.
The COVID-19 Resource Hub
Accessible from hflaporte.org, the COVID-19 Resource Hub has blossomed since it first was launched, and provides comprehensive information for people who need resources, or want to help provide them through donations and volunteering. It even includes a section that lists businesses and organizations who are providing free products and other perks to first responders or the community-at-large.
Community resources for parents, educators, and community members
La Porte County food resources
Not-for-profit & small business resources
Healthcare access & education
Government & hospital COVID-19 updates
Mental health, suicide prevention, & support groups
Ways you can help your community
“What has been most impressive to all of us at the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, including our board members, is the overwhelming community, government, and business support that has come from entities within our county,” Fruth said. “We are pleased to help with planning and coordination and funding, but the beauty of this community is that when we identify a need, we can now meet it. Five companies in our community have switched production to make supplies needed for the pandemic such as cloth masks and hand sanitizer. Not-for-profits like the United Way, Unity Foundation, Duneland Foundation and HFL have all come together to coordinate funding of critical needs such as food. We collaborate to consistently share information and avoid duplication of efforts. It’s a reflection of what La Porte County is capable of when difficult times arise. HFL is proud to be a part of the support efforts.”