Doctors and staff at Life West’s Health Center are continuing to give, do, love and serve in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Operations have been adjusted to ensure the health and safety of everyone on the premises so that the Health Center could continue to serve members of the local community, easing the burden on other health care centers.
The Health Center closed briefly following a “shelter in place” order issued in six Bay Area counties in early March. At that point, members of the Life Chiropractic College West administration met with faculty and staff to figure out how to move forward in the safest way possible.
“We really felt it would be irresponsible to continue to function the way we were, and just as irresponsible to shut down and not be available to those who needed our services,” said Life West Vice President Scott Donaldson, DC. “Somewhere in there was the reality of what we could do responsibly, to care for our community of people.”
Before coming to the Health Center, patients, doctors and staffers are required to fill out a pre-screening questionnaire designed to flag symptoms of COVID-19. A temperature-checking station has been set up at the entrance to the building, social distancing guidelines are enforced at all times, and cash and check payments are no longer accepted at the front desk.
“The doctors had a hand in how patient care should be handled,” Customer Service Manager Andrew Herrera said. “The staff had a lot of input on procedures, how we could operate and how they could feel comfortable so they could serve. They looked at the floor and helped us spread out enough to where we could provide social distancing.”
Herrera stressed the importance of working together and welcoming different ideas.
“We couldn’t have moved forward without each other,” he added, praising Health Center doctors and staff for finding a way to continue to provide care.
Providing essential care
Doctors and staff within the Health Center acted swiftly to quickly reopen with modified guidelines, in accordance with recommendations from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alameda County Public Health Department. The flow of patients has gradually increased, and the Health Center now provides a place for care to more than 100 patients on many days.
“It’s very important to us to be able to serve our patients cautiously and with respect to the public health crisis that is occurring around us,” Life West mentor doctor Lauren Clum, DC, said shortly after the Health Center re-opened. “We’ve put a lot of precautions in place to make sure we’re adhering to guidelines put out for health care facilities and honoring what’s going on with the public health crisis.”
“Not only are we helping patients manage or rid themselves of pain, but we provide a welcome break for them during their day,” said fellow mentor doctor Paula Murillo, DC. “They enjoy coming to a place that is safe, and where they can interact with friendly staff and loving interns and doctors during this challenging time.”
Dr. Donaldson said the Health Center is proving that chiropractors are essential personnel as its doctors continue to provide care for men, women and children. He added that he has also consulted with other doctors and clinics to help them on their way to reopening.
“Our doctors are taking care of non-COVID patients and helping to relieve the rest of the health care system, which is under extreme pressure right now,” he said. “By remaining open in a responsible way, we relieve some of that pressure. Everyone who is not dealing with COVID patients is essential to providing the care they need.”