Fort Bragg, CA – El sábado 21 de noviembre, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) colaboraró con el Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino para realizar pruebas de COVID-19 a más de 210 personas para determinar el alcance de la propagación del virus después de un brote que fue autoinformado por Noyo Harbor Inn en Fort Bragg. Debido a que las pruebas de vigilancia no están disponibles actualmente en la costa, muchos residentes costeros aprovecharon la oportunidad de hacerse la prueba, lo que llevó a la necesidad de que el Departamento de Policía de Fort Bragg proporcione control de tráfico. Gracias a estos servidores de la comunidad por intervenir cuando fue necesario.
La directora ejecutiva de MCC, Lucresha Rentería, agradeció a los miembros de la comunidad por su paciencia, mientras las líneas llegaban a N. Harbor Drive. “Pudimos realizarle pruebas a una gran cantidad de personas, en gran parte porque todos mantuvieron la calma y siguieron las instrucciones. Dado que se trataba de una prueba de brotes, no se hizo con cita previa, lo que significa que tuvimos que registrar y evaluar a las personas ese día y eso lleva un poco más de tiempo “, dijo. Cuando MCC recibió la confirmación de que la Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino pudo proporcionar los equipos de prueba y el equipo de registro necesarios, además de la publicación en Facebook de la Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino, MCC trabajó para publicitar el evento de prueba. “Solo teníamos un día de anticipación. Lo publicamos en las redes sociales y Joe Regelski de KOZT lo anunció como solo él puede “, dijo Rentería. “Y todo salió bien. Nunca hemos realizado tantas pruebas en un día “.
Con el aumento de los casos de COVID-19 en todo el condado, es especialmente importante que las personas sigan cumpliendo con las precauciones de seguridad, como el uso de mascarillas y el distanciamiento físico, explicó Rentería. Cuando las personas dan positivo en la prueba de COVID-19, deben aislarse en casa durante 10 días o hasta que se resuelvan sus síntomas, lo que sea más largo. Los miembros de su hogar deben estar en cuarentena durante 14 días. Dado que los miembros de la familia potencialmente nunca son evaluados, es probable que el número de casos activos esté subestimado.
Rentería dijo: “Según una publicación reciente en las redes sociales del vicealcalde del Ayuntamiento de Fort Bragg Bernie Norvell, un recuento reciente mostró que teníamos 17 casos activos en la costa norte y otros 30 posibles positivos en cuarentena en el código postal 95437 de Fort Bragg. Durante mucho tiempo, no vimos muchos casos a nivel local, pero eso ha cambiado “, dijo Rentería. Tiene la esperanza de que, sabiendo que hay una vacuna en el horizonte, la gente luchará contra la fatiga por COVID y mantendrá prácticas seguras durante todo el invierno.
Aunque MCC ya no proporciona pruebas de vigilancia para aquellos que no tienen síntomas, pero si proporciona pruebas de COVID-19 para personas sintomáticas. Las personas que no presentan síntomas necesitan una prueba de PCR. Las personas con síntomas pueden recibir una prueba de antígeno que busca una proteína del virus. Es importante hacerse el tipo de prueba correcto. Si las personas son asintomáticas y si obtienen una prueba de antígeno, pueden obtener un resultado falso negativo, lo que proporciona una sensación de seguridad que puede ser inexacta.
Salud Pública está trabajando actualmente para proporcionar un equipo móvil para realizar pruebas de vigilancia de COVID-19 en todo el condado, asociándose con las comunidades locales para encontrar un espacio donde se puedan realizar las pruebas. Para obtener las últimas actualizaciones sobre el coronavirus de Salud Pública del Condado de Mendocino, visite www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus. Para programar una cita médica en MCC, llame al (707) 964-1251.
Fort Bragg, CA – On Saturday, November 21, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) collaborated with Mendocino County Public Health to test more than 210 people for COVID-19 to determine the extent of the virus’s spread after an outbreak that was self-reported by Noyo Harbor Inn in Fort Bragg. Because surveillance testing is not currently available on the coast, many coastal residents took advantage of the opportunity to get tested, leading to the need for the Fort Bragg Police Department to provide traffic control. MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria thanked Fort Bragg’s finest for stepping in when needed.
She also thanked community members for their patience, as lines reached to N. Harbor Drive. “We were able to test a huge number of people, in large part because everyone remained calm and followed directions. Since this was outbreak testing, it wasn’t done by appointment, which means we had to register and test people that day and that takes a little longer,” she said.
When MCC received confirmation that Public Health was able to provide the requisite test kits and registration team, MCC joined Public Health in publicizing the event. Public Health and MCC posted information on their Facebook pages. “We only had about a day’s notice. We put it out on social media and KOZT’s Joe Regelski announced it as only he can,” Renteria said. “And, it all came together. We’ve never tested that many people in one day.”
With COVID-19 cases surging countywide, it is especially important that people continue to adhere to safety precautions such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, Renteria explained. When people test positive for COVID-19, they are required to isolate at home for 10 days or until their symptoms are resolved, whichever is longer. Members of their household must quarantine for 14 days. Since the family members are potentially never tested, the number of active cases is likely undercounted.
Renteria said, “According to a recent social media post by Fort Bragg City Council Vice-Mayor Bernie Norvell, a recent count showed that we had 17 active cases on the North Coast and another 30 potential positives quarantining in the 95437 Fort Bragg zip code. For a long time, we didn’t see many cases locally, but that’s changed.” Renteria is hopeful that with the knowledge that a vaccine is on the horizon, people will fight against COVID fatigue and maintain safe practices throughout the winter.
Although MCC is no longer providing surveillance testing for those who do not have symptoms, it is providing COVID-19 testing for symptomatic people. People with no symptoms need a PCR test. People with symptoms can receive an antigen test that checks for a protein of the virus. It is important to get the right type of test. If people are asymptomatic and they get an antigen test, they can get a false-negative result, providing a sense of security that may be appropriate.
Public Health is currently working on providing a mobile team to do COVID-19 surveillance testing throughout the county, partnering with local communities to find space where testing can take place. For the latest Mendocino County Public Health coronavirus updates, visit www.mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus. To schedule a medical appointment at MCC, call (707) 964-1251.
Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is pleased to announce the arrival of physician assistant Stefanie Forrester, a medical provider with more than 20 years of experience who relocated from Sand Point, Alaska, a rural community even smaller than Fort Bragg.
Forrester chose MCC for personal and professional reasons: she was looking for a rural coastal community and she wanted to find a health center where she could provide patients with excellent and comprehensive care. MCC fit the bill on both accounts.
She said, “I was very impressed with the structure and the staff at Mendocino Coast Clinics and continue to be very happy with the organization’s professionalism. I have seen that working here allows me to work to the top of my license, and I look forward to being in an environment with multiple providers so that we may share in our knowledge and learn from each other.”
She describes her approach to medicine as collaborative with the goal of developing strong relationships with her patients. For her, she says, this starts with listening. “Often, patients will tell you what is wrong with them if you listen and give them the time to talk, and then we, as a provider and patient team, can work together to find the most appropriate treatment plan. Working together improves patient compliance and satisfaction.”
Forrester was always drawn to medicine. “Growing up, I wanted to be an emergency room physician. I worked as an emergency room technician during college and for a few years after graduating while I worked on my pre-requisites for medical school. Ultimately, I decided to pursue PA school so that I could have a good work/life balance. That’s when I became very interested in family medicine and internal medicine.” She said she enjoys spending time getting to know patients and their families and she likes the challenge of having to be proficient in all types of medicine to best care for her patients and/or get them to the appropriate specialist.
Forrester’s reasons for choosing a small coastal community are deeply personal. She said, “I have been living and working in rural Alaska and have become accustomed to seeing and hearing the ocean every day. I find it very calming for me. I lost my father at an early age to cancer and we scattered his ashes in the ocean beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Whenever I am near the ocean, I feel his presence and take comfort in knowing that he is still with me in another form. Fort Bragg is a beautiful little ocean town that will allow me to breathe in the ocean smells every day.”
The fact that Fort Bragg was a small rural fishing town was an added bonus, since Forrester had such a positive experience in Alaska in a similar environment. Of small towns in general, she said, “I enjoy living in a small community. I feel it helps me get to know my patients better. It’s nice to be in a place that’s small enough to run into patients or co-workers in the stores or on the walking trails on the weekends.” She is also looking forward to exploring the local art and music culture, as her significant other is both an artist and musician. “I feel that we will be happy to put roots down in this community,” she said.
When Forrester is not working, she spends plenty of time with her four-year-old German Shepherd and her Siberian Husky puppy. She also loves to dance and plans to take an adult tap or ballet class when time allows. Finally, she says she adores horses and would welcome the opportunity to help out at a horse ranch, cleaning stalls in exchange for riding. “It’s great exercise and great for the soul. I hope to find a horse ranch to spend weekends on once I’m further established here in Fort Bragg,” she said.
MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said she is already impressed with Forrester’s attention to patients and her clear desire to provide top-quality care.
Fort Bragg, CA – As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, more people on the coast are struggling to meet their basic needs. In response, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is partnering with local government and other organizations to provide essential health services to as many people as possible, including registering people for CalFresh.
When people do not have enough money to cover basic living expenses, they are forced to make hard choices. This is the situation CalFresh is designed to address. CalFresh is California’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly referred to as food stamps), and it provides monthly food benefits to low-income individuals and families to increase their food budget so they can put more healthy food on the table. CalFresh is the largest food program in California; it is federally funded, state-supervised and county-operated.
To provide these benefits to as many coastal residents as possible, MCC offers the free service of helping people apply for benefits. During this pandemic, the MCC Outreach Department is mostly talking with people over the phone to walk them through the process of completing the required forms. Then, the only activity that must occur in person is signing the form and making some copies, which is quick and easy, according to MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.
The CalFresh benefits a household receives depend on household size, household income, and monthly expenses, including costs like housing and utilities. A family of four with a gross monthly income of $4,292 (or about $51,500 per year) is eligible and the definition of household does not require people to be related, simply to buy and prepare food together. The average CalFresh household receives more than $300 per month, with a household of four being eligible for as much as $642 per month. Details about eligibility are available online at mycalfresh.org/the-basics.
The program issues monthly benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, and food may be purchased at any grocery store or farmers market that accepts EBT cards, including members of the Mendocino County Farmers Market Association, knows as “McFarm” (mcfarm.org). Here on the coast, the Fort Bragg Farmers Market is open year-round with winter hours on Wednesdays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, rain or shine. All McFarm markets not only accept CalFresh EBT cards to pay for food, they also offer matching funds. CalFresh recipients and those with pandemic relief EBT cards can trade their CalFresh dollars for Market Bucks and the market matches up to about $20, which helps CalFresh dollars go further. The matched dollars must be used on fruits or vegetables, while the rest of the Market Bucks can be used for CalFresh-approved food purchases. The Market Bucks do not expire; however, they must be used at the market where they were purchased. The matching program is funded by the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program and administered locally by North Coast Opportunities.
Farmers Market Director Julie Apostolu said, “CalFresh recipients simply need to come to the farmers market manager’s table where they can use their EBT card to purchase Market Bucks tokens. Thanks to the FINI grant, CalFresh recipients receive fresh produce and other healthy food from the farmers market and all vendors are reimbursed for the full value of their product.”
Renteria said, “Sometimes when money is tight, people choose low-cost fast food or pre-packaged food, which doesn’t have the nutrients to keep people healthy. Fast food is full of high fat, salt, and calories that, over time, can lead to obesity which is a risk-factor for a lot of chronic illnesses. It’s wonderful that our local farmers markets make it easy for everyone to get fresh, healthy food.”
Recently, one of our community partners, Karen Oslund, reminded us that cancer isn’t taking a break just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic. Karen is the executive director of the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County and she has a front-row seat to the devastation cancer can cause for individuals and everyone who loves them.
Her comment got us thinking about how hard it is to convince ourselves that now is the time to do preventive care. Even in the best of times—and these are not the best of times—most of us are really good at coming up with reasons why we can wait until tomorrow or next week (or never) to make an appointment for our annual exam or a cancer screening we know we need. Until we have symptoms, we believe we’ll always have more time.
When the coronavirus hit last spring, many of us thought we’d hold our breath until it was over, figuratively speaking. Well, this is lasting longer than most of us expected, and putting life on hold until it’s over doesn’t seem like such a good strategy anymore.
With that in mind, if you have a little extra time on your hands, what better time to schedule an appointment than now? At Mendocino Coast Clinics, we can help you figure out how to afford the care you need, so don’t let that be a barrier.
During an annual check-up, a medical provider will review your family health history, your lifestyle, your age, your emotional state, and your physical condition. With this information, they can let you know which screenings you need and how to decrease your risk of developing chronic illnesses. The simple act of taking your vital signs allows a medical provider to determine whether you’re at risk for common diseases like hypertension. Routine screening serve an important purpose. There is strong science behind the reason that the recommendations are made.
There is no magic number to determine when you’ll start having health problems, but people older than 50 are at higher risk for many illnesses, so once you hit that age, it’s smart to keep an eye on things like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, colorectal health, and bone density, among other things. Men should also monitor their prostate function and women should become familiar with menopause symptoms. Your medical provider will likely also recommend getting vaccinated for the flu, pneumonia, and shingles.
If you’re thinking, “I feel fine. I don’t need to see a doctor,” you may be right; however, there are some serious health problems that can go undetected for a long time unless you’re looking for them. For example, many types of cancer don’t have noticeable symptoms until the cancer has spread. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is a great time for women to go get a mammogram. Most breast cancer, like many types of cancer, is highly treatable when discovered early. Hypertension is another condition that usually doesn’t exhibit symptoms until it has progressed to the point of putting patients at risk.
We’re living in stressful times right now. Why not schedule an appointment for an annual check-up to put your mind at ease and get the care you need to stay strong and healthy now and into the future?
Fort Bragg, CA – Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) is offering a free, drive-through Public Health flu vaccine clinic on Tuesday, October 20 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm in the west parking lot of 205 South Street. It is open to all coastal residents and no appointment is necessary.
“Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to be an MCC patient to get vaccinated,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria. “The only people who should not get the flu shot are babies younger than six months old and the tiny percentage of people who are allergic (which is like 0.0001 percent of the population). We will not provide high-dose vaccines, so this clinic is safe for pregnant women and people who are medically compromised.”
In light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Mendocino County, Renteria noted that the flu shot is more important than ever. People who get the flu vaccine typically either do not get the flu at all or they have milder flu symptoms, which makes them less likely to require hospitalization. “The flu shot is always a good idea, but it is even more important this year,” she said.
MCC remains dedicated to serving all people on the coast, including the most vulnerable populations such as the elderly and the homeless. To do so, it is imperative that healthcare workers remain healthy. Renteria urged people to comply with Public Health directives to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and limit non-essential group gatherings.
For details about the flu clinic, call (707) 964-1251.
Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) ofrecerá una clínica de vacunación contra la gripe de salud pública gratuita el martes 20 de octubre de 3:00 a 5:00 pm en el estacionamiento oeste de 205 South Street. Está abierto a todos los residentes de la costa y no se necesita una cita.
“Todos son bienvenidos. No es necesario ser paciente de MCC para vacunarse ”, dijo la directora ejecutiva de MCC, Lucresha Renteria. “Las únicas personas que no deberían vacunarse contra la gripe son los bebés menores de seis meses y el pequeño porcentaje de personas alérgicas (que es como el 0.0001 por ciento de la población). No proporcionaremos vacunas en dosis altas, por lo que esta clínica es segura para mujeres embarazadas y personas con problemas médicos “.
Con el reciente aumento de casos de COVID-19 en el condado de Mendocino, Rentería señaló que la vacuna contra la gripe es más importante que nunca. Las personas que se vacunan contra la gripe generalmente no contraen la gripe o tienen síntomas de gripe más leves, lo que las hace menos propensas a requerir hospitalización. “La vacuna contra la gripe siempre es una buena idea, pero es aún más importante este año”.
MCC sigue dedicado a servir a todas las personas de la costa, incluidas las poblaciones más vulnerables, como los ancianos y las personas sin hogar. Para ello, es imperativo que los trabajadores a la atención de la salud se mantengan sanos. Rentería impulse que todos cumplimos con las directivas de salud pública para usar máscaras, mantener el distanciamiento social y limitar las reuniones grupales no esenciales.
Para obtener detalles sobre la clínica de la gripe, llame al (707) 964-1251.
As cooler weather approaches, most of us will start spending even more time indoors, and experts tell us this could cause an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases. In related news, flu season is on its way. Just another kick in the teeth from 2020, a year many of us would like to leave behind.
The good news is there are steps we can all take to reduce our risk of both COVID-19 and the influenza virus, and the precautions for one also reduce our risk of the other: wearing masks, remaining socially distant, washing our hands regularly, and limiting contact with people as much as possible. Although we must wait for a COVID-19 vaccine to become available, we can get our flu shot right now.
You may be thinking, if we’re all wearing masks and staying socially distant, why do we need a vaccine? There are several reasons. First, the flu is far more prevalent than the coronavirus and therefore, it is likely to spread to more people. Although you may wear masks at work and in public, you probably don’t wear them at home where people pass viruses back and forth all the time. And if you have children, your chances of getting the flu just went up.
Some people don’t get the flu shot because the vaccine is only 40-50 percent effective. But even if the vaccine protects only half the people who receive it, that means a very large number of people will not be spreading it to others. Also, people who get the vaccine typically have milder flu symptoms and are less likely to require hospitalization or to die from a complication of the illness. During the 2019-2020 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths.”
Really, the only people who should not get the flu shot are babies younger than six months old and adults with allergic reactions. Just to be clear, many people experience a minor immune response to the vaccine—this is not an allergic reaction. If you feel tired and a little sick after getting the flu shot, this is actually not a bad thing according to Mendocino Coast Clinics Medical Director Dr. Lawrence Goldyn. These are the signs that your immune system is revving up. Just to put your mind at ease, according to the CDC, in recent years only 33 individuals out of 25 million vaccines given had a serious allergic reaction. So, it is extremely rare.
If you are pregnant or immuno-compromised, it is important to mention this to the person providing the flu shot. The nasal spray typically given to children is not safe for people who are immuno-compromised because the vaccine contains a little bit of live virus.
Overall, getting the flu shot is likely to prevent you from getting the flu or at least reduce your symptoms, and that will not only make you feel better but also slow the spread of the flu. Also, if you get the flu shot and later experience flu-like symptoms, your medical provider may be better able to diagnose you with coronavirus rather than the flu, saving valuable time.
Much is still unknown about the coronavirus, but we do know that people who get the flu are often more susceptible to secondary infections. It is possible that getting COVID-19 could increase our chances of contracting the flu or vice versa. It’s best to do what we can to prevent infection, and that means getting a flu shot.
The flu vaccine is proven safe and effective and every medical provider I know gets vaccinated every year (and insists their loved ones do the same). Here at Mendocino Coast Clinics, Dr. Goldyn insists that every member of the staff get the flu shot unless the employee has a medical history that makes it dangerous—a very rare occurrence.
Please, for your own health and the health of our whole community, go get a flu shot!
Covered California Health Insurance Extends Deadline to August 31
Fort Bragg, CA – The spike in unemployment caused by COVID-19 has left many coastal residents without employee-sponsored health insurance, a situation mirrored statewide. In response, Covered California recently extended its health insurance enrollment deadline to August 31, allowing more time for Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) to help local people register for health coverage for themselves and their families.
“Under the best of circumstances, choosing and enrolling in health insurance programs can be confusing. With COVID-19, the need for insurance has become urgent and figuring it all out can feel overwhelming,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.
At Federally Qualified Health Centers like MCC, patient advocates offer a free service to support patients through the process of enrolling in whichever health insurance program is most appropriate for them, whether it is Covered California, Medi-Cal/Partnership HealthPlan, choosing Medicare supplemental plans, and other insurance types. All three of MCC’s Patient Advocates are bilingual in English and Spanish. Most of the services are currently provided over the phone with the only need for a visit to the clinic being for signatures or delivery of necessary paperwork.
Covered California is California’s answer to the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (sometimes called Obamacare). Covered California is a health insurance exchange offering many options and it can be difficult to know which one is best, both in terms of cost and with regard to which programs local care providers accept.
Partnership HealthPlan of California (Medi-Cal)
Medi-Cal is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program, which offers health insurance for people with incomes below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($17,237 for an individual; $35,535 for a family of four) or for those who meet strict disability criteria. In Mendocino County, Partnership HealthPlan is the company that administers Medi-Cal benefits.
For those 65 and older, MCC patient advocates can help U.S. citizens and qualified immigrants enroll in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for older adults. MCC Patient Advocate Albert Anderson said, “People who are not on Social Security should look into applying for Medicare three months before their sixty-fifth birthday, because they will not receive a Medicare card automatically.”
There are two types of supplemental plans available to fill the gaps and deductibles in Medicare coverage. MCC’s patient advocates can help people decide which options best fit their individual needs.
In addition to health insurance, MCC’s patient advocates assist with other types of support, such as CalFresh (formerly called SNAP or food stamps) and Social Security benefits. Advocates can explain correspondence from the government about health-related programs and assist with permanent federal disability applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). During the annual enrollment for medication benefits associated with Medicare, they assist with Medicare Part D screenings.
For uninsured or underinsured patients who qualify, MCC’s patient advocates can reduce healthcare costs by applying a sliding fee scale to the care provided at MCC. For most low-income patients, enrolling in a federal or state health insurance program provides peace of mind and more affordable health care.
Renteria said, “If you are currently uninsured or looking for options for your healthcare coverage, call us at (707) 964-1251 and schedule an appointment with one of our patient advocates. Their services are free and confidential. You may be surprised what you qualify for and how inexpensive some health insurance programs can be.”
MCC is a non-profit, federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to residents from Westport to Elk and inland to Comptche in Mendocino County for more than 25 years. Visit www.mendocinocoastclinics.org for more information.</center>
Our friends at the Centers for Disease Control warn consumers not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by “Eskbiochem SA de CV” in Mexico, since they may contain the toxic ingredient methanol. Methanol can cause blindness and/or death when absorbed through the skin or when swallowed.
Fort Bragg, CA – Last week, the North Coast’s non-profit health center, Mendocino Coast Clinics, was able to secure a shipment of 5,000 medical masks to protect employees, patients, and visitors from COVID-19. To help raise funds for this purchase, MCC invites community members to support its “We Ask for a Mask” campaign on May 5. The campaign is part of #GivingTuesdayNow (now.givingtuesday.org), a global movement encouraging people to give back to their communities in any way they can during an emergency response to the COVID-19 virus.
The MCC masks were secured through connections initiated by a supporter of MCC’s annual fundraiser. Tawny MacMillan, who coordinates the fundraiser, said, “This extraordinary feat [of securing masks] means that providers, nurses, medical assistants, behavioral health counselors, the dental and pediatric staff, everyone will be further protected during the COVID-19 crisis – and not have to reuse masks. That, in turn, means we can meet our ultimate goal: to further protect our patients.”
Each mask costs five dollars so, MacMillan explained, every small donation will have a big impact. In this case, five dollars can save a life.” Those interested in supporting MCC, can visit the health center’s website at mendocinocoastclinics.org/donate.
More than a month ago, when news of the pandemic hit, MCC proactively safeguarded patients and staff by investing in telehealth, setting up a triage tent in the parking lot to isolate potential COVID-19 cases, and stocking up on personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns, and gloves. This type of preparation is crucial in a rural environment such as the Mendocino Coast with limited access to acute care services.
MCC also sought grant funding to offset the costs of responding to COVID-19. It awaits news from some funders, but in the meantime, it is putting federal funding and a generous donation of $5,000 from the Mendocino Coast Healthcare Foundation to good use. The federal monies are funding salaries and other essential expenses, and the MCHF donation is being used to expand telehealth services, specifically to purchase Doxy—a secure telehealth online subscription.
MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria said, “We are very grateful to MCHF. Especially in light of COVID-19, we are leaning on technology more than ever. This funding will help defray some of the costs as we purchase more tablets and laptops, pay for broadband, and subscribe to online telemedicine services,” she explained.
Services such as behavioral health and non-essential medical appointments have been converted to phone and telehealth video calls. For essential healthcare services that require face-to-face meetings, MCC continues to see patients at their health centers or, in the case of the Coastal Street Medicine program, at local shelters and churches. MCC regularly sends a registered nurse, a case manager, and a translator to the Hospitality House and Presbyterian Church to provide COVID-19 health checks and basic medical care, including wound care.
MCC Medical Director Dr. Lawrence Goldyn applauded MCC employees in a recent letter, in which he also shared some insights about providing care during a crisis, those he gathered as a provider during the early years of the HIV epidemic.
“Here are some of the things I have learned. People are scared. It brings out the best and the worst in them. We will see both the good and the bad in expected, and sometimes unexpected, places. We will see selfish hoarding, stigmatizing and abandonment of the ill. We will also witness breathtaking selflessness and kindness.
Embrace your fear. Do not let it overwhelm you. Talk to your family, colleagues, and friends about your fears, but pay attention to your audience. If you seem afraid to those who look to you for guidance, you might scare them even more. If you feel overwhelmed, look for professional help without embarrassment.
Find solace at whatever altar comforts you. This might include a traditional house of worship, the woods, or the seashore. It might be a quiet place in your home or your garden.
Stand up for science. Science is the antidote to the ignorance that promotes fear. Science will bring us back to some kind of normalcy. I saw great scientists mocked and harassed during the early days of the HIV epidemic. They stuck to their principles. Ultimately, they saved millions of lives. They rank among my heroes.
Be proud of what you are doing. Embrace your heroism but do it with humility. This capacity to do monumental work fell into our laps. Some people spend a lifetime looking for something to participate in that is bigger than themselves. What we do here is beyond important. We are not caring for patients in Intensive Care Units, but we are saving lives. If you doubt how heroic your work is, go online and search for ‘applause for health care workers.’ I applaud all of you.”
Copyright by Mendocino Coast Clinics. All rights reserved. This Health Center receives HHS funding and has Federal PHS deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals. This Health Center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 245b, and deemed a Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233 (g)-(n). Any claim filed against MCC must be done in federal court.