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WellSpan Health unites with community partners to care for vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

April 10, 2020

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Josh Medina, a Rabbit Transit driver, stepped up to help transport patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Josh Medina, a Rabbit Transit driver, stepped up to help transport patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imagine the challenges if you are homeless or living in temporary housing and starting to exhibit the fever, cough and other symptoms of coronavirus.

How can you isolate from others if you are living in a shelter or couch surfing, where you are sharing a kitchen or bathroom? Where can you find food if you are living on the street and depending on community meals, if you are sick? How can you access testing or medical care?

WellSpan Health is collaborating with numerous community partners, including emergency management officials in every county. Together, the partners are working to ensure that the region’s vulnerable patients get the help they need during the pandemic, with access to testing, medical care, housing, food and even transportation if they have possible or confirmed COVID-19.

“This is a community-wide effort,” said Katie Wilt, manager of case management special programs for WellSpan Health. “We are working with shelters, residences, state and county government, community groups and others to make sure everyone has access to care. We realize there is whole other population we need to guide and work with during this crisis.”

The efforts vary from county to county, but the main components of the community outreach program include:

·         Computer tablets provided to shelters and group homes with vulnerable populations, offering access to WellSpan Online Urgent Care, so residents can connect with a provider and be assessed for potential coronavirus symptoms.

·         Transportation, including to WellSpan testing tents for those who have COVID-19 symptoms and to other parts of the program.

·         Housing at area motels for those who need to be isolated either while awaiting test results or while completing the recommended 14-day isolation period following a positive test result. This is designed for people who live in shelters or sites where isolating is not possible.

·         Meals at the motels during the isolation period.

·         Support and check-in calls to ensure that patients get any needed care during the isolation time.

The outreach is being funded by a variety of means, including philanthropic donors as well as government funding across the service area.

The details of the programs and the partners vary slightly from county to county. Community partners across the region include the York County Coalition on Homelessness, the Northern Lancaster Hub, Lebanon County Christian Ministries and the Healthy Franklin County Group, among others.

The program highlights the unique ways that community partners are collaborating to care for vulnerable patients.

Meet Josh Medina, a 36-year-old driver for Rabbit Transit, a regional public transportation provider that serves an area that includes Adams, Franklin and York counties. Medina stepped up to be the driver transporting possible and confirmed COVID-19 patients to testing sites, hotels or medical appointments within the WellSpan program.

To make that possible, Rabbit Transit has set aside a bus and a van for patients, which will be cleaned with a special “fogger” that will disinfect them after use.

Medina is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who had experience with hazardous materials during his service, and so knew how to wear personal protective equipment. When his boss asked him if he would be willing to be the designated coronavirus driver in the region, working with WellSpan patients, Medina readily agreed. He will be on call, while continuing to drive his regular bus routes when he is not needed to drive COVID-19 patients.

 “It’s a crazy time and somebody’s got to do it,” Medina said. “I want to do my part. Let’s do the best we can to help each other out and help each other through this situation.”