Vulnerable populations account for a substantial proportion of the United States population. The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the elderly and those with underlying health issues as having the highest risk of mortality. This literature review utilizes a matrix approach to explore the challenges to providing care for the vulnerable elderly, those with underlying health issues, with disabilities, with low income or homelessness, and those with mental health concerns in these extreme times. Appropriate care for vulnerable populations in times of crisis requires focus and planning in critical areas. This article discusses the critical areas of communications and trust, policies and planning, resource allocation, and physical or digital provision of care. Care must be built around the anticipated needs of vulnerable populations and adapted to evolving conditions to minimize morbidity and mortality. There is a need for further investigation and development of effective telehealth systems to address barriers and increase inclusion of vulnerable populations. Effective provision of healthcare to vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, may prevent the need for resource-intensive critical care by maintaining health.
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Marsh, Jennifer L.; O'Mallon, Marilyn; Stockdale, Steven; and Potter, Danita R.. (2020). "Caring for Vulnerable Populations During a Pandemic: Literature Review". International Journal of Caring Sciences, 13(3), 2298-2303.