Wallace Medical plays vital role in pandemic
Wallace Medical Concern, a primary care medical clinic for low-income residents of East Multnomah County, has transferred most of its care to telehealth visits because of the coronavirus pandemic, but will take patients in the office if necessary.
The clinic has also "seen" about a half-dozen patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, but no deaths have been reported, said Dr. Stuart Currie, Wallace's chief medical officer. None of Wallace's staff have had COVID-19.
"While most visits are telehealth (medical, behavioral/mental health and dental), we are seeing a small number of patients in person when it is needed," said Currie.
Wallace said it is ready to provide telehealth services to anyone who needs care that can be delivered through a phone or video visit. Medical, behavioral health and dental practitioners at Wallace offer remote visits, which help patients stay at home and avoid exposure to the coronavirus.
In-person visits are offered if a provider decides it's needed.
"The first step if you're sick is to call your primary care provider," said Lisa Cline, chief executive officer of Wallace. "It's surprising just how much can be done very effectively in a telehealth visit."
If someone shows up at the Rockwood clinic without an appointment, they will have their temperature taken and given a mask. A nurse comes out to evaluate the situation and determine whether a telemedicine or in-person visit is needed. The patient might also be referred to urgent or emergency care.
The Wallace Gresham clinic, at 254 N.W. Burnside Road, is temporarily closed.
"Primary care providers like Wallace play a distinctive and important role at a time like this," Cline said.
"We address essential patient needs that might overwhelm hospitals otherwise. It's about doing what we're best positioned to do so people get the right care when they need it — as safely as possible for everyone involved," Cline added.
Efforts by primary care providers during a pandemic can help to make sure that local hospitals, like Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, have as much capacity as possible to care for the sickest patients, she explained.
"The symptoms of this disease (COVID-19) are similar to other common conditions, like colds or flu. We can assess and monitor patients, refer them for testing if indicated and direct them to a higher level of care if and when that's appropriate. Additionally, patients' chronic care needs continue despite the stay-at-home orders. Our goal is to get everyone care without swamping the emergency departments," Currie said.
The Wallace dental concern is also still working in emergency situations.
"We want anyone who has dental concerns to know that we're here for them," said Dr. Kyle Geelan, Wallace dental director.
"I urge anyone who has a concern with their oral health to simply call us. You'll likely be given the opportunity to have a virtual visit with a dental provider who can help you, and determine whether you're having a dental emergency that requires coming in to our office for treatment," said Geelan.
Want to help?
Wallace Medical Concern is a nonprofit organization that provides medical care to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. Wallace welcomes donations. They can be made by visiting: mywallace.org/helping/giving-options/.
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