Q: What has been the impact of COVID-19 on medical professionals, and how has this time of pandemic been different for them compared to typical times?
A: Health Partnership Clinic has had to redesign how we provide medical, dental and behavioral health services to the community. As an essential service to those experiencing challenges accessing care, Health Partnership worked to ensure that care remained available to all. We made an almost immediate change to move most of our visits to telemedicine visits or telephone visits. At the same time, we were in a constant state of learning and changing as our knowledge base around COVID-19 grew. For the first time, we were doing testing from cars as well as much-needed immunizations. We have had to rethink how we provide well visits as patients are reluctant and scared to seek treatment. An example of this is carving out specific days for back-to-school physicals and immunizations for well kids that included dental and behavioral health screenings.
Q: What resources have medical professionals needed and how have you been able to support your colleagues’ well-being during this difficult time?
A: Up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 as well as having the proper personal protective equipment have been the key resources that staff has needed. Working with key partners, we have been able to provide this to staff. At the same time, we were very aware of the stress that staff was under, both professionally and personally. Our behavioral health department was key in offering suggestions and support as well as providing “wellness” kits to each clinic with stress relieving activities. The community also played a large role in supporting the work we do, including providing treats, meals and messages of support to staff.
Q: What do you anticipate as you look at the next several months?
A: We are very concerned about the upcoming flu season and how that intersects with COVID-19. We secured rapid multi-testing machines for flu, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and strep so we can expedite test results in-house. We expect to see more sick visits but also are planning for the impact of having staff out due to illness. We are planning for the worst but hoping for the best.
Q: What are the top three largest impacts made on those you serve?
A: The top three impacts on our patients would be loss of job, loss of insurance and the stress that has come with this pandemic, including uncertainty, fear and isolation.
Q: What has been the hardest challenge you have faced or obstacle you have overcome?
A: The single hardest challenge would be the constant flow of changing information. As we have continued to learn more about COVID-19, we continue to work to adapt to provide not only the best treatment but also the best protocols for keeping staff and patients safe.
Q: What didn’t we ask you that you would like to share?
A: We would like to thank all our community partners, both public and private, for the support they have provided. Without all of us working together, this challenge would have been even more daunting.