The early weeks of the COVID-19 Regional Response Team focused on convening lead agencies from across the social services sector in our bi-state region. Conversation groups were organized into clusters as a way to identify and seek to meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents and those most likely to be impacted by the disease. In addition to these conversations, we conducted research with a broader group of providers and stakeholders.
What we learned from over 130 organizations was that basic needs were the priority for all population subsets. Having a cluster focused on basic needs was too broad.
Having a cluster based on population was too limiting.
We needed a way to refine the problem and the specific opportunities for improvement.
Members of the RRT told us that we needed to make a pivot, and we listened. Rather than organize by cluster, we would organize based on the immediate need to solve problems. This is accomplished through “Campaigns” executed by “Strike Teams.”
Campaigns: An area of emphasis with a distinct need addressing an element of immediate concern for a vulnerable population in the RRT footprint.
Strike Teams: With a project manager on point, and flanked by social service agency staff, strike teams approach campaigns with tactical insights and leverage all resources at their disposal to identify and implement a solution.
National and international reports discussed impacts of the disease on vulnerable populations. Grounded in knowledge of the St. Louis regional issues in health disparities and access to care, three campaigns were launched in April by forming strike teams. Immediate steps taken by the strike teams included drilling deeply and immediately into
- naming the issue,
- assessing available resources,
- leveraging assets (including dollars), and
- activating a solution.
Strike teams were formed to address the following core issues:
- Dedicated services for homebound older adults and persons with disabilities
- School food programs
- Health and shelter needs of unhoused individuals
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Coordination
The campaigns focused on urgency, capacity, and impact. Project managers assigned to those campaigns led strike teams made up of partners and stakeholders best suited to meet this emergent need. The RRT has continue to evolve its efforts as needs emerge to identify new campaigns.