COVID-19 Emergency Fund Launched to Support Cystic Fibrosis Community

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by David Melamed, PhD |

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Respiratory Care

The non-profit organization Claire’s Place Foundation has launched a donation-based COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support the cystic fibrosis (CF) community by raising funds to provide patients and their families with groceries, supplies, and medications during the outbreak.

The fund will be available for people with CF and their families, from March 20 until at least April 20, who are struggling to pay for food and medicines due to the societal restrictions resulting from COVID-19.

People with CF are at a particularly high risk should they become infected with COVID-19, as it is viral disease that primarily affects the lungs. CF patients have an increased need for medical care and protection.

The COVID-19 virus specifically causes damage to the outer, epithelial cells of the lungs, which already are fragile in patients with CF.

“COVID-19 affects the epithelial cells lining of the lungs which is detrimental to the health of someone with CF as the epithelial cells are already damaged due to CF,” Richard Mathis, MD, a board member of Claire’s Place Foundation, and a physician who has treated CF patients for 40 years, said in a press release.

Mathis recently shared some advice for CF patients to reduce their risk from COVID-19. He now is recommending an extended self-quarantine of at least 14 days, in order to avoid any possibility of contracting the virus.

“Individuals with CF and their household members are on the front line of the need for preventive measures, and that includes self-quarantine for 14 days and ideally more,” Mathis said.

A greater need for preventive measures, however, comes at a greater cost to the individual. Isolating for at least two weeks is necessary, but it also means that people with CF may not be able to work and earn money during this time.

“People with CF are at grave risk if infected with COVID-19. CF patients, caregivers and family members of anyone affected by CF, please take all precautions,” said Melissa Yeager, executive director of Claire’s Place Foundation. “As a result, we realize many individuals with CF and their families will be financially impacted by this voluntary quarantine. Loss of work and isolation will make it very hard for these families and individuals to get the food, supplies and support they require,” she said.

With these concerns in mind, the non-profit group organized the COVID-19 Emergency Fund to help CF patients and families cope during this crisis. According to Claire’s Place Foundation, many CF patients and their families already are struggling to make ends meet, which is why the Emergency Fund may make a difference in some situations.

“Most of the CF individuals and their families who reach out to us for support are already living dangerously close to the poverty line,” said Yeager. “That’s why we created our COVID-19 Emergency Fund.”

“This is unprecedented territory for us, we hope that the greater community gives generously so we can make funds available for CF families in need as quickly as possible,” she said.

If you are a person with CF or a family member and are in need, you may be eligible for assistance from the fund during the COVID-19 outbreak. Guidelines for eligibility require a referral that explains the diagnosis and the need for assistance. This must be submitted by a healthcare professional, including a social worker, a doctor, or a nurse.

The COVID-19 Emergency Fund is currently accepting donations at this website to meet its $5,000 fundraising goal. The recommended donation is $50, but any amount will help the CF community during this unprecedented time.