Joanna Turner, Education and Research Manager for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand, says the small Foundation has been working tirelessly responding to social media messages, phone calls and emails.
Sometimes receiving over 1000 queries in a week, the small team has been working around the clock to debunk misinformation, provide accurate information, and calm distressed New Zealanders in a time of crisis.
“There is a lot of misinformation on the internet surrounding COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses such as asthma, however we want New Zealanders to be able to come to the Foundation with any queries or worries and know they can be guaranteed an answer,” says Turner.
Not only are there a core team of nine people working for the Foundation, there are also twelve highly respected doctors volunteering their time, including Dr James Fingleton of Wellington and Dr Stuart James of Auckland, both respected respiratory professionals, who have been spending as much time as they can responding to ARFNZ patient worries.
“One of the most common patient worries we have found is that people feel it could be unsafe going to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, for fear of catching COVID-19. Although this is always a possibility every time you step out of your bubble, staying on your medication and sticking to your prescribed medication regime is most important – this is one important point we are really trying to highlight,” says Turner.
“Although there are some great resources on the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand’s website, and we are always there to help, there are other websites we are able to send distressed Kiwis. There are 18 regional asthma societies across the country to aid the 700,000 New Zealanders living with respiratory conditions, and most provide educators who are able to have extensive phone conversations – we are not always able to do this. Our Foundation also supports the Ministry of Health guidelines and the Government-led COVID-19 page,” says Turner.