Amid Rise in COVID-19 Deaths, “Last Responders” PPE Awareness Fundraising Initiative Helps Protect Funeral Industry Workers

FUNERAL ADVOCATES OF AMERICA AND #GETUSPPE TEAM UP TO OFFER FREE PPE TO FUNERAL HOMES ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Maryland funeral & cremation services experience surge, lack of equipment during pandemic

BALTIMORE (WBFF) — Local funeral homes and crematoriums are seeing an increased workload and shortages of necessary protective equipment as the number of deaths related to COVID-19 continue to rise here in Maryland. “It’s changed to something we could have never imagined,” funeral director Dr. Hari P. Close told FOX45.

Funeral Advocates of America LLC (FAA) and #GetUsPPE have joined forces to launch the ‘Last Responders Awareness Initiative’, Co-Founded by Ashley Jackson and Dr. Hari P. Close. The initiative’s goal is to draw attention to combat the issue of the severe lack of protective equipment and the growing crisis of COVID-19 casualties among death care professionals. Facing the possibility of mass fatalities due to the Novel Corona virus pandemic, FAA is taking matters into their own hands by launching the initiative to raise funding to buy PPE to donate to funeral homes nationally through the Supportful.com platform. In partnership with GetUsPPE.org, protective equipment will be acquired and distributed to funeral homes across the country – especially those in high casualty areas.

Dr. Hari P. Close II, CFSGM, National President of NFDMA and Last Responder Initiative Co-Founder dons full PPE to protect himself during the embalming process. (Photo courtesy of Funeral Advocates of America)

Death care professionals are often not considered when people think of “front line” workers, but in fact their job starts when the medical professionals’ ends. With FAA joining forces with #GetMePPE to facilitate this initiative, this is the first time that health care workers and death care workers are coming together to expand awareness of the shortage of PPE for both industries and to protect all front line workers.

“It is essential for the health care and death care industries to unify. Essentially, this is the first time that the death care industry has aligned with the medical industry to bring national attention to bridge the gap for ALL health care workers nationally, to provide the necessary protective equipment to help protect and save our dedicated professionals and colleagues’ lives.”

Dr. Hari P. Close II, CFSGM, National President of NFDMA and initiative Co-Founder.

The Department of Homeland Security has designated Funeral Homes as “critical infrastructure” to provide them priority access to protective equipment, but the growing demand has not been met. With a broken supply chain of protective equipment such as hazmat suits, disposable body bags, goggles, gowns, biohazard disposal supplies, N95 masks, and gloves, death care workers are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis by continuing to assist families without having adequate protective gear and equipment.

The last responders: Funeral homes on the front lines

The death toll in New York state is now more than 10,800. The fatalities are weighing on funeral directors who are also acting as caregivers for the families of the deceased.

“For so many in our community, funeral homes provide a sense of support and security in moments of great sorrow,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP. “We recognize the need for funeral homes to be a safe place for families to give their loved ones a proper burial. During these times, this task is made more difficult if they do not have the necessary personal protection equipment (PPE) to ensure the safekeeping of staff and patrons. We call on local and state governments to protect the sanctity of funeral homes by giving them access to protective equipment.”

As FEMA stockpiles of PPE dwindle, the ‘Last Responders Awareness Initiative’ in association with #GetUsPPE, will facilitate the collection and distribution of supplies to funeral homes throughout the United States. To donate to the “Last Responders Initiative” visit supportful.com/lastresponderdonations if you are a funeral home in need of PPE please register at https://getusppe.org/request/.

Dr. Close’s Encouragement to Death Care Professionals by SMG Music Media

Death care professionals are often not considered when people think of “front line” workers, but in fact their job starts when the medical professionals’ ends. Funeral Advocates of America LLC (FAA) and #GetUsPPE have joined forces to launch the ‘Last Responders Awareness Initiative’, Co-Founded by Ashley Jackson and Dr. Hari P.

Listen to Dr. Close as he encourages fellow death care professionals. You can hear the interview in its entirety on SP Radio “Talking Points”.

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