This Kochi girl is helming one of New York’s prominent COVID-19 initiatives

A Kochi girl is helming one of New York City’s prominent COVID-19 initiatives. MetroPlus catches up with her for a chat

Updated - July 23, 2020 12:07 pm IST

Published - July 21, 2020 10:56 am IST - Kochi:

Sarah Kurien

Sarah Kurien

“Every time I hear about social workers using tablets to help people say goodbye to their loved ones or administrators who have gone for days without a full night’s sleep to make sure that we continue to do the best we can in the face of this pandemic, I know that I am exactly where I need to be at this moment,” says Sarah Joseph Kurien over a WhatsApp call from New York. “At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, we had the opportunity to show up for New Yorkers who needed support. We have rallied as a city to lift access to healthcare as a need and a right.”

The Kochi girl, who works with NYC Health+Hospitals, is managing the COVID-19 testing operations as part of New York City’s Test and Trace Program, initiated by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and launched on May 8. NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public hospital system in the US, with 11 hospitals and more than 60 clinics in its network.

Sarah explains that she had been managing operations for the NYC Care programme since before the pandemic. “NYC Care is a 100-million-dollar health access programme that provides healthcare access to New Yorkers who cannot afford insurance or are ineligible for insurance due to their immigration status. The focus is to connect patients to primary and preventive care, and encourage ongoing health maintenance rather than rely solely on the emergency room in times of crisis. ”

Lending a helping hand

In addition to this, Sarah is also the deputy lead for testing at NYC’s Test and Trace programme, which involves widespread testing, contact tracing and taking care of those who need it. “Since the launch on May 8, we’ve set up more than 30 new testing sites in various neighbourhoods and also have several mobile vans that offer COVID-19 testing.”

A former student of Lawrence School, Lovedale, Sarah finished her International Baccalaureate diploma at the Mahindra United World College in Pune. She majored in French Studies for her under-graduation at Colby College in the US. After graduating in 2009, she did a short stint with Point of View, a Mumbai-based non-profit organisation that focusses on creating room for under-represented communities in media, art, and culture. After her Masters in Public Administration at Cornell University, she worked at the NYC Mayor’s office before joining NYC Health+Hospitals.

Speaking of the response to COVID-19 in her home State, Kerala, 33-year-old Sarah says, “I think Kerala has been rightfully held up as an example of speedy and thoughtful COVID-19 response. My mother was telling me about districts that would go into different zones of lockdown depending on new cases, the Government providing rations, and the rapid contact tracing effort as soon as anyone tested positive. I am amazed and thrilled to see Kerala’s response and the low mortality rate truly bears testament to the State’s success in these challenging times.”

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