The COVID-19 “shut down” occurred in March 2020 during MS Awareness month, immediately altering National Multiple Sclerosis Society services and events. Within one week, approximately 1,000 staff nationwide were working from home, including MS Navigators who provide direct assistance to people affected by multiple sclerosis.
In addition to MS Navigator, in-person fundraising events, patient education programs, self-help group meetings, healthcare provider meetings, healthcare provider education, and MS activism successfully switched to virtual formats. Unfortunately, fundraising and staffing were adversely affected. The Society faced many challenges, but also experienced successes, including the rapid launch of UNM’s Project ECHO which educated and expanded the MS workforce.
People affected MS and their healthcare providers relied on the National MS Society as a source of COVID-19 information, education, and connection. The ability to rapidly “pivot” was at the core of success:
Pause – we instantly paused in-person programs and events
Innovate – we assessed what we needed to accomplish in new ways
Virtual – we implemented virtual programs, services, and fundraising events Organize – we reduced staff, closed small offices including Albuquerque, and restructured the organization
Teach – we provided education to healthcare providers and people affected by MS about COVID-19 and MS
Our poster and video presentation will cover the Society’s challenges and successes in detail related to our COVID-19 pivot.
Kowal, Vicki. "National MS Society COVID-19 Response." (2021). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hsc-bbhrd/9