Family Health Center of Worcester is a full-service, Federally Qualified Health Center serving patients across the greater Worcester area of Massachusetts (30,000+ of which are monitored on the Pings platform). Dedicated to improving the health and well-being for its patient populations, especially those that are culturally diverse, Family Health Center of Worcester provides access to affordable, high quality, integrated, comprehensive, and respectful primary health care and social services, regardless of patients’ ability to pay.
We sat down with Jenepher Henkins, Director of Care Management, Alex Jean-Baptiste, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), and Amanda Milliken, Care Management Program Coordinator, at Family Health Center of Worcester, to discuss challenges their team has faced amidst COVID-19, and steps they’ve taken to overcome these challenges in order to continue providing improved patient care.
Can you tell us about some of the challenges your organization has faced as a result of COVID-19?
As a result of COVID-19, we implemented an Incident Command Team, which is completely new for us. Many people on the Incident Command Team hold other vital roles at Family Health Center of Worcester, so deciding what other areas of care could wait or not get done was a challenge for us. As part of our response to COVID-19, we set up a tent outside of the health center in the parking lot to perform COVID-19 testing, which took involvement from various other groups and departments to ensure coordination of care during this COVID-19 pandemic (Persons Under Investigation (PUI) tracking, call back teams, incident command teams, frontline teams, Pharmacy teams). Obtaining enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (masks, gowns, hand sanitizer, etc.) was also a major challenge for us, as there were so many shortages.
How have you used Pings to overcome these challenges?
To overcome these challenges, we implemented PatientPing (Pings)’s COVID-19 flag, which automatically alerts our team members in real time when patients potentially exposed to the virus have care events outside of our four walls. The flag helps us see our patients who have presented to Emergency Departments (EDs) or hospitals, who are receiving care for COVID-19 or testing for the virus. The flag has also helped us with coordination of follow-up care by helping us know of staff or patients who may have been exposed to the virus.
What insights do you have now that you lacked prior to implementing Pings?
With PatientPing (Pings), we now know where our patients are receiving care outside of our organization, and have the ability to connect them back to our health center for appropriate follow-up care. We have also had the ability to strengthen our workflows with surrounding hospitals and emergency departments by collaborating with them to improve patient follow-ups post-discharge. When implementing PatientPing (Pings), we received excellent feedback from various departments that are utilizing the platform.
How has Pings helped to improve patient care during the COVID-19 crisis?
PatientPing (Pings) has helped improve our follow-up care amidst COVID-19. With PatientPing (Pings), we have been able to better connect with our patients, and engage with those who have the virus or may have been exposed to it. Patients do not always tell us about their ED presentations or care events, so it is great to see this information for ourselves in PatientPing. Being able to see patients who have been at other organizations for COVID-19 with PatientPing (Pings) has been especially essential. With this information, we’re able to monitor patients who may have been exposed to the virus, and determine if we should provide a telehealth appointment versus an in-person appointment to help ensure patients and staff safe members are kept safe during these challenging times.