LENEXA, Kan. — The grim reality during the COVID-19 crisis is driving medical professionals to join a coalition of volunteers.
"This is a moment that we'll never experience again. I've been involved in every major disaster in the world for the last 30 years," Dr. Gary Morsch, founder of Heart to Heart International and Docs Who Care. "Hundreds of thousands of Americans possibly will die with this."
The newly formed COVID Care Force will provide additional staff to hospitals if there's a strain on resources, a real concern in rural areas.
"You’re going to have little tiny hotspots but because it's 25 or 100 people at a time," Dr. Jeff Colyer, former Kansas governor, said. "It's devastating for these communities; 10 percent of a community can be infected and sick at the same time."
Colyer is part of the International Medical Corps, which has raised $20 million for this partnership with Heart to Heart International and Docs Who Care.
"I felt this was going to be a real crisis," Morsch told 41 Action News on Tuesday, "and it indeed has been."
The expected peak of COVID-19 cases for the Kansas City region is few weeks away.
"We're not we're not at the end of that tunnel yet, but we will be," Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said.
In the meantime, the COVID Care Force is starting its work now. Beginning Wednesday, a dozen doctors, nurses and a paramedic will spend 10-days in New York City serving two hospitals.
"I don't know what to expect, and it's a little frightening," said Dr. Jeffrey Alpert, a COVID Care Force volunteer. "But hopefully my training has prepared me for this. It's what—it's what we do."
On Tuesday, New York state recorded more than 700 deaths, marking its biggest one-day jump in the outbreak.
"When something like this happens at home it just makes it even more a priority that we need to go," Dr. Tuck Smith, another COVID Care Force volunteer, told 41 Action News.
The group hopes some of their Midwest spirit will help heal an area experiencing hurt and loss.
"The Heart of America is right here, and this is where it starts," Colyer said. "And we're all in this together."
Interested health care professionals are encouraged sign up to volunteer with the COVID Care Force online.