Eva, a homeless patient, participated regularly in La Clinica’s Entre Amigas (Among Friends) group, a support group focused on the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of Latina immigrant women. Not feeling well, Eva called Sandra Baron, one of the group’s coordinators, worried that she had COVID symptoms. Swiftly Sandra called Dr. Lujan at La Clinica’s clinical site to evaluate her symptoms. It was confirmed that Eva was positive for COVID-19. Being homeless, she had nowhere to quarantine. Through some creative planning Dr. Lujan and Sandra were able to coordinate Eva to be picked up by an ambulance at a nearby pharmacy so that she could safely be taken to a hotel re-purposed for individuals needing to quarantine. Dr. Lujan communicated frequently with Eva and would contact the hotel nurse station to inform them of any developing symptoms. Since Eva felt nervous and uncomfortable advocating for herself, Dr. Lujan also made sure any medications arrived safely from the pharmacy to the hotel. Once Eva was symptom-free she was transferred to a PEP-V location (Pandemic Emergency Program for Medically Vulnerable Individuals) where she could recuperate. Keeping track of Eva’s wellbeing required incredible teamwork between the medical frontline staff and the Entre Amigas program staff, Sandra remembers, “I was able to get Eva gift cards and clothes because she had nothing and sometimes, she would call me to let me know she was hungry.” Eva continues to live at the PEP-V location and is awaiting placement to permanent housing. She goes to church once a week and is trying to find a steady job. There isn’t a moment that the teams involved don’t reflect on what could have been Eva’s outcome if they hadn’t responded quickly and creatively. Eva’s story shines a light on the resilient nature of La Clinica’s staff, who continually go the extra mile to ensure the best outcome for each of their clients.
The impact the pandemic has had on the participants of our school-based mental health services program, Mi Refugio, has been daunting. Our three full-time staff members that coordinate the program have been checking in regularly with the 169 young Latino High Schoolers to ensure their health, well-being, and safety. Many of the student participants were directly impacted or had family members who became sick with COVID-19. Others were worried sick over family members losing jobs and what would become of their living situations. Yecenia Castillo, Manager of Mi Refugio, recalls that when the pandemic first hit in the spring the volume of requests for help was intense. “One student reached out to let us know that his grandfather was in critical condition. His grandparents had full guardianship of him and his younger brother, and his grandfather was the sole provider in the house.” His grandfather had become infected because he was an essential worker. “We were all so thankful that our client’s grandfather recovered and is now back at work. The wait, the isolation, the fear of what could have happened took a toll on our client’s mental health. It was vital to keep a close connection through calls, texts, and Zoom to help him cope with this global crisis.” This client is now working full time too, to help with the family expenses, and he is doing it while being a full-time high school student.
La Clinica plays a critical role in building a healthier community. This year has especially been vital to the health of our patients and the wider Latinx community. We have been able to reach our patients in new ways, innovate, and provide essential care due to the generous support of our community. We encourage you to read the highlights and stories that drive us each day.
Now more than ever, La Clinica needs to continue being a source of safety and strength. It will take all of us to make that a reality!
We face a difficult year ahead. Your gift today will keep us doing this work, serving our community wherever and whenever needed, going the extra mile with our full hearts and minds, and raising our voices for justice.
REACHING OUR PATIENTS WHERE THEY ARE…
In March, La Clinica quickly mobilized its staff to provide services remotely by phone and virtual platforms, launching La Clínica Desde Su Casa (The Clinic from Your Home), which includes telemedicine, care coordination, medical interpretation, group support, health education, and mental health and substance use services. Patient continuity-of-care has been an ongoing priority, as is reducing unnecessary exposure, particularly to those in higher-risk groups for COVID-19.
Many of our patients didn’t have smartphones, computers, or internet, yet, our staff found ways to include them into group sessions that were vital for their safety. One of our therapists commented that some participants had to call from their cars in order to have privacy. Our Substance Use counselors shared after months of virtual group sessions they felt the sense of closeness had been re-created, “almost like sitting in a circle together.” Other programs utilized Facebook Live as a way to reach a broader base – since April, more than 180,152 people have tuned in. Additionally, we leveraged our role as a cultural broker for our community, ensuring COVID-19 information produced by official sources was also accessible to the low-income limited English proficient Latino community. La Clínica developed a series of culturally and linguistically appropriate infographics; showcasing themes like prevention, stopping stigma, coping with stress, contact tracing, and more. This past year, we also increased media with more than 25 appearances, to raise awareness on these topics among Latinos while also sharing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on our community. These efforts and the positive impact would not have been possible without your steadfast support.
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