Mr. Williams: For me, it’s all about patients and providers. The providers are explaining the difficulties in treating patients and how the pandemic has delayed care. Take arthritis for instance—due to COVID there are often in-patient infusions that are being foregone. The pandemic has really exacerbated those issues. With the suspension of elective surgeries and the restriction on in-patient services, it’s important for us to hear about the effects these measures are having, even if they are necessary.
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TR: How are people in your office communicating with constituents right now?
Mr. Palin: We’ve really focused on continuing to make sure our office is as accessible as possible to constituents. A lot of folks don’t know they can reach out to us and we can help solve issues with federal agencies. With many still stuck at home, we’ve had to find new ways to communicate that we can be a resource. One way we’ve done that is with tele-town halls, texting and virtual events. As things have switched to virtual, we’ve ramped up that type of communication, contacting tens of thousands of constituents to invite them to community forums. In these forums, the Congresswoman can update constituents personally, and we bring on experts to talk about small business, health care surrounding the pandemic and other topics.
We’ve also held a multitude of webinars on various issues. Our small businesses webinars were some of our most widely attended, and we brought on folks from the SBA and other agencies to help answer questions about Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and some of the other programs available to small business owners. Throughout this process, we’ve had small business practitioners who say they needed help with PPP or Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and we’ve been working to connect them with the resources and information they need.
With constituents unable to visit due to quarantine orders, we’ve tried to come up with innovative and creative ways to reach out and remain a resource, and I think we’ve been pretty successful.
Vanessa Caceres is a freelance medical writer in Bradenton, Fla.