By Frank Couch
The Bessemer Neighborhood Health Center continues to serve a vulnerable patient population, making adjustments to ensure continuous care to patients while dealing with new challenges presented by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing partners with Alethia House and The Foundry Rescue and Recovery Mission to provide affordable healthcare at the nurse-managed Bessemer Neighborhood Health Center which is a Federally Qualified Health Center.
The clinic provides quality, affordable health care for Birmingham metro area community members in need, especially the homeless population. It offers primary care, mental health care and medication assisted treatment (Suboxone therapy), for patients ages 14 and older.
UAB School of Nursing Instructor Melanie Baucom, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC, Director of Clinical Services for the Bessemer Neighborhood Health Center said the clinic made a rapid turn to telehealth medicine to provide uninterrupted services to their clients as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated.
“Within the course of a week we were able to transition nearly 95 percent of patient care to telehealth,” Baucom said. She added that for the small number of patients that still have to come into the clinic, staff is provided with appropriate protective equipment and patients wear masks. The clinic also undergoes a frequent and thorough cleaning regimen to put forth every effort to ensure patient and staff safety.
“The UAB School of Nursing has been very supportive throughout the clinics response to the novel coronavirus,” Baucom said. “They make sure we are up to date with all of the latest recommendations, offer any services we have needed and have provided with PPE from the school’s simulation team which included N-95 masks, gloves, gowns and other supplies.”
These supplies are typically used in simulations within the School, during which students learn the proper way to “don and doff” PPE in order to remain safe and prevent contamination.
Baucom and other UAB School of Nursing-affiliated nurse practitioners continue to provide patients a full range of services including blood pressure management, diabetes management and treatment of acute illnesses. Patients also have access to lab facilities and can receive help in having prescriptions filled at local pharmacies.
“We want our patients to be as healthy as possible and we are grateful to have been able to continue to provide care for some of our most vulnerable citizens during this pandemic,” Baucom said.