On the visit to each home, volunteers participating in the operation provide information on how to prevent COVID-19, take residents' body temperature, and look for other symptoms of the disease. If they find a potential positive case, the team refers it to a triage center—a gazebo area set up in the middle of the street. There, a team of social workers, nurses, health promoters, and doctors like Sofia interview them and prepare their personal records. The next step is to immediately give them a swab test in a mobile health facility a few meters away. Until the results come back, people suspected of having COVID-19 are put in preventive quarantine.
"We take information on them and their close contacts, and we include everything they tell us in the report. If there are risk factors, such as diabetes, COPD, or asthma, we evaluate whether they need to be hospitalized or referred to an isolation center for close monitoring," Sofia explained. “On a normal day, more than 90 residents visit the gazebo. But it is also a place where we can listen to them. Very often what they need is to be heard, and that's what we're trying to offer them," Sofia said.
The program is promoted by the national Ministry of Health, in line with recommendations from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). It was launched simultaneously on May 4 in Quilmes, in the greater Buenos Aires area, and in urban areas of Buenos Aires. Since then, more teams have been deployed in and around the Buenos Aires metropolitan area and in the provinces of Chaco, Entre Ríos, La Rioja, Santa Cruz, and Santa Fe. Since then, the program has been expanded and is now available in all jurisdictions that wish to implement it to complement their local strategies.
Where a large number of cases begin to appear, the goal is to quickly bring them under control," explained Carla Vizzotti, Argentina's Secretary of Health Access.