For several years, Arlington Free Clinic staff has been in what’s seemed like “change management boot camp.” We’ve lived through major construction, Medicaid expansion, the addition of dental services, and the retirement of beloved colleagues. Although nothing could have prepared us for COVID-19, I’ve been so proud of how our team has jumped in to adapt to a world of nonstop change and uncertainty.
As we entered this crisis, my top priority has been to keep AFC’s staff healthy – in body, mind, and spirit. From day one, we’ve strictly enforced hand washing and 6-foot social distancing, provided protective gear and temperature checks to keep them safe, and graciously accepted lunch donations and special treats to keep them nourished and happy.
Next, we quickly re-tooled all operations to focus on essential services and moved all routine care to new telehealth platforms. Our pharmacy team has rallied to make sure our patients have the prescriptions they need to keep their health conditions under control, and our nurses have stayed in close contact with our sickest patients – such as those with cancer – to make certain their care is not interrupted. About half of our staff is at home calling patients to check on them, making telehealth appointments, serving as interpreters, and working with our volunteer doctors, most of whom are sheltering at home.
We’ve spent hours planning for any possible challenge. How will patients get their diabetes medicine if they are quarantined? What happens if I get sick? Should we begin to plan for a virtual gala? How do we help our patients connect to technology? It seems that every day we throw the previous day’s plan in the trash and start all over again! But we keep moving forward.
Those who will be hurt most by this are the poor and most vulnerable in our community. Most of our patients lost their jobs in the first days of the crisis. Long after you and I have returned to our busy lives, our patients will still be feeling both the financial and health impact of this crisis and will be coming to us for help. You can trust that AFC is committed to our patients – our work has never been so important.
I’m thankful for every call I’ve received asking “What can I do to help?” We ask you to stay connected through our website and social media. We will thoroughly examine the financial impact of this crisis when the time comes. For now, we will focus our efforts on care for our patients – knowing that our community will be there to help us remain a lifeline for those who need us most.
— Nancy White, AFC President
Read our entire 2020 Spring Newsletter.
The Helpers of AFC
Adopting Telehealth at AFC
Meeting Critical Non-Medical Needs
Caring for the Mind & Spirit
Check-in Calls: AFC is Here to Help!
Clinical & Program Updates
Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Matching Grant Opportunity
A Note from a Supporter