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August 3, 2020 – COVID-19 Update from our Medical Director

August 3, 2020

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I hope that you and your families are staying safe and well. It’s hard to believe that it has been five months since the pandemic began in our area; it has been a challenging time for our staff and the patients we serve.      

I’m so proud to share with you the work that our staff has been doing and continues to do during this pandemic. Our staff cares deeply for our patients (as demonstrated below with our patient, Imelda) and are working very hard to meet their health care needs. Between April 1 and June 30, our clinical providers held 19,864 telehealth visits with patients, in addition to 3,957 in-person health visits at our clinics. In our clinics, care is provided safely, observing social distancing and minimizing waiting room time, and providing masks to all who enter. We are expanding in-person services while adhering to our principle of zero transmission of Coronavirus in our sites.      

We continue with our Covid-19 testing at five outdoor sites and have tested over 5,000 people. In addition, I am very excited to share that we have launched our new Mobile Testing program. Funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the City of Alexandria Health Department has made this new initiative possible. Mobile testing allows us to work with community partners to bring testing directly to our neighboring communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. We have already conducted testing at the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s (ARHA) Ladrey and Annie B. Rose senior housing centers.      

Thank you so much for your interest in our work and the health of the neediest in our community. If you are able to support our work at this time, we would be so grateful. We can only continue to do this work with your help!  

With much gratitude,  

Martha Welman, MD

Medical Director  

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“If God says it’s time to die, I will, but will no longer go to the hospital.”– Imelda, Neighborhood Health patient

This is what our patient, Imelda, told our staff when she was very sick with Covid-19 and frightened to go to the hospital. Imelda is 55 years old, illiterate, speaks only Spanish, and has diabetes and depression. In mid-April she was diagnosed with Covid-19. Once a Neighborhood Health patient is diagnosed with Covid-19, staff make daily wellness check-in calls. We learned that she lives in a rented room in an apartment. Friends were delivering food to Imelda, but she didn’t want to eat anything. She was not checking her blood sugar or injecting insulin.    

A few days later, staff reported that she sounded weaker and she was in a lot of pain. Very concerned for her health, Imelda agreed that our staff should call an ambulance to take her to hospital but when the EMTs showed up she refused to go because she was frightened and thought no one could help her get better. She told our staff “If God says it’s time to die, I will, but will no longer go to the hospital.” The next day when staff called to check-in, Imelda did not answer her phone. Our Family Nurse Practitioner, Medical Director and Director of Behavioral Health were all extremely worried about her and requested that the police make a non-emergency wellness check. The police reported that she was very sick and recommended that she go to the hospital. Imelda was still distrustful but our Medical Director called her, convinced her to go to the hospital, and stayed on the phone with her while an ambulance was called. The police wellness check team commented on the extreme level of care and compassion that the Neighborhood Health team displayed in caring for this patient. She arrived at the Emergency Room very ill – with a very low blood oxygen level.    

Thankfully, with treatment in the hospital, Imelda made a full recovery and returned back home.