New state website providing resources for Mass. frontline workers

BOSTON — The COVID-19 crisis has revealed needs that many did not anticipate, especially for frontline workers.

Boston 25 News told you earlier this month that the Massachusetts Attorney General launched a one-stop-shop website for those workers. Maura Healey told Boston 25 News anchor Kerry Kavanaugh that, since launching the site on April 15, it has seen more than 75,000 views.

“Our frontline workers are heroes right now in this battle against the coronavirus,” Healey said.

Organizations are stepping up to help them. But, tracking that information down can be time-consuming.

“So, we wanted to put it all in a central place,” Healey said. “Where to get emergency childcare, where to get free or discounted meals, if you are between shifts or you are COVID-positive and don’t want to go home to stay, where can you find hotel rooms to self-isolate.”

Healey reached out to the innovation firm Ideo of Cambridge.

“They came to us sharing all these awesome tools and resources that they had aggregated and wanted to get these out to frontline workers,” said Daniel DeRuntz, a senior design director who also happens to be married to a nurse on the frontlines.

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“I know from my wife. What they’re going through and up against is really challenging,” he said. “I think myself and the team we just had this sense, ‘oh man we got to get this stuff out there because they’re really, really hungering for this kind of information.”

So, in four days, the team at Ideo created

The site can address practical needs like childcare, free meals and how to track down PPE. It's also filling emotional needs.

“They see and experience so much trauma in their line of work and they’re so busy taking care of other people that it’s hard for them to take care of themselves,” Healey said, adding that the self-care section is one of the most visited pages on the site.

For Dr. Jennifer Pascual, it was a place to educate.

“How they can continue to get groceries, get their prescriptions, but not be out in the community and infect other people,” said Dr. Pascual, an emergency department physician at Lawrence General Hospital.

Dr. Pascual said she’s been educating her individual patients, but the site gives her a bigger platform.

“I do see people coming into the hospital who are still not getting it, or just don’t really understand, through no fault of their own,” she said. “But they just need that one-on-one talk.”

Her message is in a section where anyone can share, a section called Frontline Messages.

“It’s just a place for people to say thank you or share stories with frontline workers,” DeRuntz said.

It’s like a heroes’ wall where frontline workers can share stories and everyone else can show appreciation.

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“Let them know that we’re all behind them,” DeRuntz said.

Healey said, on the site, there are ways to donate to programs helping frontline workers.