While I never expected to move our urgent care clinic outdoors, I was prepared for this moment. I studied epidemiology and have almost two decades of experience as an emergency medicine physician. I’ve also led medical relief efforts in foreign countries following natural disasters, so I’m no stranger to a medical tent. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Chicago, I put my experience into action.
My team at Innovative Express Care quickly ordered supplies and planned for the worst so we could provide the best care to our patients. We are the only urgent care clinic in Chicago testing or COVID-19 right now and we’ve seen hundreds of patients. Many people have asked me how this all works, so I’ll take a moment to explain.
Innovative Express Care has used telemedicine to provide convenient and efficient care to our patients since we opened our doors. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, we immediately converted that system to COVID-19 screenings. A telemedicine screening is required before a patient comes to the clinic for medical testing. Telemedicine is the safest and most efficient way to limit exposure to the virus. Patient history, symptoms and insurance is taken during the online appointment, which expedites the process on-site. Innovative Express Care follows a three-step process for COVID-19 patients:
Innovative Express Care uses a private lab for COVID-19 testing. Clinicians use CDC guidelines and their discretion to determine who should be tested for COVID-19.
Our entire team has played a vital role in executing our COVID-19 plan. In the clinic, we have a medical team doing telemedicine visits, seeing patients for X-ray imaging, taking appointments and restocking supplies. Outside in the tent, we have a team of physicians, medical assistants and nurses who greet patients, take vital signs, administer tests, chart everything and stock supplies. It takes teamwork to effectively run the clinic both indoors and outdoors, while also adhering to the absolute highest standards of safety for both our patients and our staff.
Telemedicine allows patients to consult with a physician from the comfort of their own home. If testing is needed, they are able to wait in their car and a clinician will come to them. These are just a couple of the measures we take to make the patient experience quick and easy, while protecting everyone’s health. Patients who test positive for COVID-19 have follow-up telemedicine visits every three days to make sure they are doing well and that their symptoms are stable or improving.
While we have yet to see the virus peak, we are effectively flattening the curve by dramatically changing our lives and staying home. Please continue to do this. It’s hard, lonely and frustrating, but it matters. You are saving lives.