In March 2020, I woke up to a new reality like many: the pandemic becoming commonly known as COVID-19 started threatening our livelihood in tangible ways, and it became apparent that it would have a lasting impact on our physical and mental health as well as our social and economic wellbeing. In addition to impacting our everyday lives, our new reality exposed many of our region’s public health, emergency preparedness and medical challenges. We needed to find solutions quickly to respond to our immediate needs to protect our beloved community, while looking to the future and how we could build a more resilient medical community and stronger economic sector. It quickly became clear that now more than ever that the Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) Foundation’s mission to catalyze and develop our region’s life sciences ecosystem to improve healthcare and create economic opportunity is not only an idealistic goal but an absolutely necessity. And when the pandemic became a reality, the MCA stepped up to help our community respond.
For example, the MCA partnered with the City of El Paso, UTHouston School of Public Health and the Paso del Norte Health Foundation (PDNHF), to create the COVID-19 Enhanced Regional Public Health Partnership, a public-private partnership that aims to improve communication and coordination between public sector officials, private sector partners, and healthcare providers, and to strengthen the region’s collective capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this Partnership, the MCA contracted Battelle, an international science and technology company at the forefront of the global response to the pandemic, to provide hands-on support and guidance during this critical time. In addition, our Innovation Center is supporting over the entrepreneurs working on innovations to respond to the pandemic. Our BIO El Paso-Juarez cluster group developed a BIOEPJ COVID-19 Response Task Force that has led to multiple partnerships for the medical device manufacturing community to ramp up production of PPE and other medical supplies and equipment. Our COVID-19 PPE committee helped to create a marketplace for PPE from trustworthy vendors to be more easily acquired by local businesses. Our testing committee has helped to address employers’ re-opening needs, and we are helping to bring COVID-19 treatments and research through our clinical trials consortium. Finally, we took our STEM Camps virtual to help our region’s teachers and students overcome the difficulties of homeschooling during this unprecedented time. All of this, while keeping our Cardwell Collaborative and VA Wellness Center facilities functioning efficiently.
I am proud of our team, our board, and our community partners establishing the MCA and guiding it to its current position of strength, then activating it to help respond to this global crisis. Our region needs the MCA’s work to continue now more than ever, and we need you to get involved. Together, we will emerge stronger!