COVID-19 in Camden and beyond
This blog post is part of our series of COVID-19 reflections and updates from our CEO Kathleen Noonan. Read the rest of this series here.
As the global COVID-19 pandemic begins to affect communities across the country, I wanted to reach out and share with you what we are doing to keep our team, our patients, and our community safe and connected. We know you are all doing the same, so we thought it might be helpful to share some of our protocols and actions in the spirit of community and continuous learning.
As I’m sure you all are doing in your own organizations and communities, we are balancing how we can keep our staff healthy while continuing to support the vulnerable individuals who we serve. In addition to being at high risk for severe forms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, individuals with complex health and social needs also face disproportionate economic and social impacts from social distancing measures put in place to limit infection. However, we believe that with creativity and humility, we can continue to provide coordinated, whole-person care for those who need it most.
Our staff are working remotely, but that doesn’t mean we have stopped the vital work we do in Camden and in the South Jersey region:
- Our care teams are conducting virtual visits with patients over phone and video. For those patients who do not have access to phones, we are loaning them cellphones so we do not lose contact. Find our new care team protocol here.
- Every morning, our clinical staff are calling partner organizations to get up-to-date information on their operations that we can pass on to our patients who use their services. We are working to distribute this information on a public webpage soon so that Camden providers and residents can better coordinate care. (As of 3/23/20, this information is available on our website.)
- A local homeless shelter partner does not have medical staff on-site, so we set them up with iPads that our clinical staff are using to conduct telehealth visits with their residents.
- Our Accountable Health Communities program, in which we are working with staff of primary care practices to screen South Jersey residents for social needs, has gone remote. Our navigators are using information in our Health Information Exchange (HIE) to trigger follow-up with those who screen positive for social needs. Our navigators also have a script to provide accurate COVID-19-related information to patients who ask questions about what they should do about potential illness. Find the script they are using here.
- We are proactively reaching out and providing navigation services for individuals being tested for COVID-19. We know that COVID-19 impacts more than just health — people are in need of food, transportation, assistance for utilities, and housing. Our navigators are calling individuals to check in, identify and help address unmet needs. Read more about this project here.
- Our community engagement team is reaching out to all members of our Community Advisory Committee to ensure that they’re not feeling isolated, to identify any needs they have and to share accurate information with anyone feeling anxious about the epidemic. We are tracking who has access and/or knows how to use video telecommunications to determine who might need support/help with that in the near-term. Find the script they are using here.
- We are working with our partners and with the state of New Jersey to assess the need to open the Camden Coalition Health Information Exchange more broadly so that more organizations and practices can use the shared data to coordinate care. Please email Christine McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org if your organization would like access.
- All or our regular convenings are happening remotely. This month’s Camden Care Management Meeting will be a virtual opportunity for Camden providers to discuss and troubleshoot barriers to coordinated care during the epidemic.
- Finally, as a Regional Health Hub, we are relaying the information we are hearing on the ground to the state of New Jersey to inform their decision-making in this rapidly-changing environment.
We want to hear from you, too, about the challenges you’re facing and the solutions you’re developing. Please join our Complex Care Resource Exchange LinkedIn group, where you can share resources and ask questions of other complex care providers across the country grappling with COVID-19.
Thank you for the work you do every day to improve care for people with complex health and social needs. Now is when we need your passion and dedication most.