In the past week, our Nueva Vida Clinic staff have seen more patients presenting symptoms of COVID-19. One patient who came to the gate was quite ill and we sent him directly to the hospital, but the others had relatively mild symptoms. We are instituting a more stringent protocol to protect our staff and the patients, as well as reporting any suspected cases to the Ministry of Health.
We have installed an awning outside the clinic to check patients even before they come inside. Our infrared thermometers that we ordered to be shipped have not arrived; in the meantime we’re using conventional thermometers.
We are asking patients more detailed symptom questions, and our nurses will be testing their blood oxygen levels with pulse oximeters…$50 each! We will have patients smell something potent to test for loss of sense of smell, as well as checking their feet for COVID toes.
|COVID toes - photo shutterstock licensed|
The patients who come to our clinic tend to not tell nurses what their problems are, but save the telling for the doctors, which is a difficult cultural barrier to overcome.
After the screening, patients who are not identified as possible COVID-19 cases will go on to see the doctors. Patients who have suspicious symptoms will be sent home with information about the virus and a bag of specific medications for symptoms, all without entering the clinic buildings. They are also being given two cloth masks for them to wear and information on how to protect their loved ones.
These patients are strongly encouraged to go to the public health facility which has testing capabilities to be tested and for follow up with contact tracing, as this will help protect their family and give them resources if they become severely ill.
In turn, our clinic is reporting these cases to the Ministry of Health (MINSA) with the patient’s contact information so that MINSA can follow-up. We will also be calling the patients regularly to check on them.
We are ramping up protections for the staff. We have sent home four clinic staff members who are sick - none with suspected COVID but with regular cough and cold. All volunteers have been sent home. We are upgrading reusable facial masks for our staff and requiring that providers wear facial shields. This is hard for our docs who want the patients to see their faces.
Only emergency dental care is happening now.
Our therapist is one of the staff members out sick with a cold. When she is well, she is seeing patients and they wear masks and sit 6 feet apart. This is extremely difficult with children.
We are spending tons on...
- Bleach and washcloths to clean. We are fumigating three times a day and mopping more and more with bleach solution.
- We are spending more on appropriate cloth for masks.
- Pulse oximeters
- More on specific medications
- More on sewing gowns that tie in the back to protect the front of the staff instead of lab coats
And on and on it goes.
From what our clinic staff members are seeing, community transmission may be finally happening and may hit our area hard. The government said that May would be the month this would happen…and unfortunately it seems that prediction was correct.
Please keep our staff and the patients and all the families in your thoughts and prayers. We worry that the pandemic could be like a fire storm.
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