Long hours, a shortage of personal protective equipment, self-isolating from their own family members to protect them … these are just a few of the many difficulties America’s front-line health care workers are facing as they lead the fight against COVID-19.

While the novel coronavirus has changed our country in ways we never thought possible, another change has occurred: The public has come to realize that our real superheroes aren’t on movie screens or playing for a championship … they’re in our hospitals and health systems, working tirelessly — and putting their own health and safety second — to treat patients and defeat COVID-19.

This revelation isn’t news to those of us in the health care field. But it’s an important step in getting people to recognize that as our health care heroes work to protect us, we have to do everything we can to support them. Here’s how we can do that:

First, we need to make sure they have the PPE they need to protect themselves. The AHA is connecting suppliers with hospital and health system leaders through our 100 Million Mask Challenge. We’ve just launched a new and expanded version of the website … and recently received a $100,000 contribution from the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum due to strong sales of their new Dr. Anthony Fauci bobblehead. Pleased that Dr. Fauci is finding more than one way to contribute to the response!

Our support for health care heroes can’t stop at PPE, though. They also need other supports so they can keep saving lives.

That’s why we’ve partnered with the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy and the Creative Coalition to launch a new initiative called Protect the Heroes, which provides the public with the ability to donate directly to their local hospital and health care heroes so they can get the PPE and support they need. And more businesses are stepping up: A number of hotels and airlines are offering substantial discounts for health care heroes who are traveling to hotspots to join the fight.                                                                             

Moreover, we are urging the Administration to distribute critical funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act to hospitals and health systems as soon as possible. The first $30 billion went out today … and we will keep pressing for the remaining funds to be released, as well as for additional targeted relief for hospitals in hot spots, children’s hospitals, rural hospitals, hospitals with a high percentage of payments under Medicare Advantage, and hospitals caring for high numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients. We’re also looking ahead to the next legislative package to address COVID-19, compiling our legislative priorities and educating Congress on the need to secure critical support for hospitals, health systems and our health care heroes. More to come on this.

The bottom line is that we are facing the greatest challenge of our lifetimes. Our health care heroes — society’s true superheroes — will help us get through it. And we’ll help them get through it, too.

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