Two new clinics focusing on respiratory care should make it easier for residents of the inner city to get tested for COVID-19 and receive care in the early stages of the illness.
Jordan Health Center on Holland Street and Trillium Health on Monroe Avenue are opening respiratory clinics for their patients.
The projects are in response to the number of Blacks and Latinos who have contracted COVID-19 and hospitalizations that are out of proportion to their population in the community. The clinics are in collaboration with the city, Monroe County and UR Medicine.
“We have enough experience in this community to know about disparities and look for disparities and to anticipate them and address them and prevent them to the extent possible,” said Dr. Michael Mendoza, commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Public Health.
As of April 17, Blacks were 66.7% of patients in a hospital intensive care unit and 51.4% of patients on a ventilator. Latinos were 22.2% of ICU patients and 11.4% of patients on a ventilator, according to data from the Monroe County Department of Public Health.
Many patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms that are managed without hospitalization. People with chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure may be more at risk for complications. COVID-19 has brought decades of differences in access to care into the spotlight, and those disparities are playing out now as communities of color are affected by the virus.
Jordan’s clinic opened April 21. Existing Jordan patients can schedule appointments between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the main site, 82 Holland St.
Trillium Health will open its clinic for existing patients on April 27 and see existing patients by appointment from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Trillium expects to eventually open to the general public. It also plans to add a mobile clinic.
The services would be covered in the same way as other care at the facilities. “No one should avoid care because they fear a bill,” said Dr. Laurie Donohue, chief medical officer at Jordan.
The idea is to bring care closer to people who have to walk or take a bus to a health center. Monroe County is providing both sites with personal protective equipment and COVID-19 test kits.
As health experts have learned more about the disease, they have rethought some of their recommendations about who should be tested.
Initially, tests were reserved for health care workers, first responders and people with symptoms. As it became known that someone without symptoms can transmit COVID-19, health officials are aware that testing may need to broaden. Many Blacks and Latinos work in hospitals and nursing homes, some performing direct patient care and some in environmental services.
Mendoza said during an April 21 online news conference that he relies on the clinical judgment of his colleagues in ordering tests. He said that because communities of color are frontline workers, “I think it’s absolutely important that we do what we can to screen and understand the prevalence, because that is the data point that will help guide us out of these woods.”
Mendoza cautioned that the testing can be flawed. Someone’s test could come back negative, but the person could have the virus.