Ted Okon Highlights COA Committee to Act on Humanitarian Crises

SAP Partners | <b>Community Oncology Alliance (COA)</b>

While the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) was involved in humanitarian work in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the crisis in Ukraine caused COA to set up a special committee to jump into action, said Ted Okon, MBA, executive director, COA.

While the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) was involved in humanitarian work in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the crisis in Ukraine caused COA to set up a special committee to jump into action, said Ted Okon, MBA, executive director, COA.

Transcript

COA recently launched a committee to act on humanitarian causes, such as addressing the special needs of patients with cancer due to the war in Ukraine. What are some specific successes of this effort?

Several years ago when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, because we have such great ties to Puerto Rico—I've spoken there every year except up until COVID-19, to the oncologists there—the island was devastated. And we had to jump to action, and we did. We started by getting solar phones so we can communicate. And then we worked with CancerCare, the humanitarian organization, to basically provide transportation and stipends for patients to keep on getting their cancer care, as well as for practices to keep open.

We learned by that, that we can have an impact. And even though there have been other crises since then, I think Ukraine really opened our eyes that we need to have a standing committee. So, COA did 2 things. Number 1, we put in place a standing committee, and that committee is meant to address other crises. Frankly, should we have addressed the crisis in Syria? Yes, but these things come, you don't realize it, and so, now we have a better appreciation. But because it was so severe what was happening in Ukraine, we said, we need to basically help.

So, we put up a webpage. We worked with 4 different humanitarian organizations that are medical, their focus is medicine, and COA started out by donating $10,000 to each. And I know I personally did, as well as others. And this isn't meant to be a one-and-done thing on Ukraine. This is meant to basically have a committee, so that when the next crisis hits, we do something about it. This just can't be about going about our normal business. We have to look a lot broader than ourselves.