News | June 11th, 2020
Florida Department of Health Adapts to Help Patients Despite COVID-19
By: Ari Payne
TALLAHASSEE, FLA.— The Florida Department of Health has faced many roadblocks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The department’s employees are no longer able to conduct face-to-face appointments with their patients and are now finding ways to still provide their services.
Due to the novel coronavirus, health workers are not able to travel or meet with medical providers and are forced to work from home. However, these limitations do not prevent the workers from contacting and treating their patients to the best of their abilities.
Aiyana Fleming, who is the breast and cervical coordinator for the Florida Department of Health, normally speaks with 5-10 patients a week and schedules them for mammograms, a process that has now been halted.
“Due to COVID-19, my team and I had to pause with scheduling women for mammography services because of the stay-at-home order. We would like to meet our goal of having 300 women being screened, but due to the population we serve, we don’t want to put them at risk of going out exposing themselves unless they are having major issues with their breast that needs to be evaluated,” Fleming said.
She explained that she still contacts patients regularly. “Most of our work requires us to be in office, so there is only so much we can do from home. We do a lot of scanning, faxing and calling throughout the day.”
Christopher Douglas, a disease intervention specialist for the Florida Department of Health, normally visited 20-25 patients a week prior to COVID-19.
“When we used to make visits, we tried to locate patients for different infections. Depending on the severity of the infection, we conduct interviews on them to see if we could get partner information. We want to get everyone treated,” Douglas said.
Douglas gave insight as to how limited the department’s options are while trying to still help patients. “The only accommodation is that we are teleworking from home and only have to come into the office twice a week. We take turns alternating in and out of the office. On days where we are not in the office and we need to send a letter to a patient, we contact whoever is in the office and ask them to send it for us,” he said.
Re’neisha Lee is the prenatal coordinator for the Florida Department of Health. She visited two or three patients a week before the COVID-19 pandemic. Lee took her patients to doctor’s appointments, along with “checking on their well-being.” Lee expressed how good the accommodations have been.
“I think my job accommodates me very well. Even though I don’t see patients in person, I still contact them by phone or email,” she said.
There is no way to know how effective the changes have been for patients, but the Florida Department of Health continues to try to treat people in need amidst the global pandemic.
For more information on COVID-19, you can visit floridahealth.gov.