There’s A Free Service Offering Lebanese People Virtual Medical Support

Heal Beirut | Reuters

People in Lebanon who have been impacted by the Beirut Blast and are living the trauma of crises can now get medical support from this new non-profit organization by Lebanese expats in the United States.

Gathering over 140 healthcare providers, Heal Beirut affords a remote medical consultancy venue, free of charge, in English, French, and Arabic, making it possible for all in Lebanon to use its services, and at no cost.

Attending physicians, resident physicians, dentists, and psychologists are volunteering their time for people who have general medical questions, mental health questions, dental questions, or simply want someone to talk to.

All sessions are conducted remotely via WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, or telephone.

Heal Beirut was launched a week after the catastrophic explosion by two Lebanese siblings, Dr. Marc Ayoub in New York and Dr. Noel Ayoub in California.

The response from health providers was immediate, with over 140 signing up to volunteer their time and expertise.

“In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, we, like all Lebanese abroad, were looking for ways to directly help the people on the ground. We knew multiple hospitals were damaged and the healthcare system was overburdened with COVID-19 and the explosion,” Dr. Noel Ayoub told The961.

Soon after they launched, the founders realized that issues were present long before the explosion and so will likely persist long after.

These include limited access to health care and the persistent stigma of mental health that hinders people from seeking the care they need and deserve. 

“We created this platform to help victims of the explosion but very soon realized that the needs we were trying to help solve were not just related to the explosion,” Dr. Ayoub explained.

He noted that Heal Beirut aims to help eliminate this stigma and make people feel comfortable seeking out care because “these are very real issues requiring real intervention and support”.

One additional benefit of the platform is that the providers are outside of Lebanon. Not only does having international providers bring a unique perspective to treating these disorders, but it has also made people within Lebanon more comfortable seeking care.

“The person on the other end of the line is thousands of miles away, and so this can be much more anonymous. In this way, we hope that we have created a safe space for people in need,” Dr. Ayoub said.

Addressing the people in Lebanon via their Heal Beirut website, the founders say: “Simply stated, while you’re on the front lines protecting us and fighting for our country, we know the burden it carries and this is the least we can offer.”

Even though all the volunteers are based in the United States, Heal Beirut has also partnered with physicians in Lebanon whom they reach out to if they believe a patient would benefit from in-person care or requires urgent intervention. 

However, health care providers who are volunteering or wish to volunteer must be licensed within the United States.

So far, Heal Beirut has helped around 250 people in Lebanon. Those wishing to receive help can simply request a booking and fill out the registration form.

After signing up, a person will be matched to a health provider who will contact back for a zoom or phone session. There is no limit on the number of sessions one can request. 

When asked about any future plans for Heal Beirut, Dr. Noel Ayoub optimistically shared with The961: “Given the immense need within Lebanon for increased access to care, we plan to continue this nonprofit work throughout Lebanon.”

There also might be a chance that Heal Beirut will be extending its generous services beyond Lebanon, and to other countries in the region.

“We are brainstorming ways to replicate the infrastructure and operations we have built to provide immediate care in other cities when they experience acute humanitarian crises,” Dr. Ayoub added.

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