• The initial $1,000 grants from the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund are helping free clinics cover the costs of PPE, medications, telemedicine, and more.

    “Due to the high number of patients who are out of work because of COVID-19, we (at the Hearts and Hands Clinic) have stopped charging patients for glucose test strips and meters … Any funds not used for glucose test strips and meters or medication, will be used toward utilities.”

    “Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic (BFC) volunteers contact patients and document information related to chronic illnesses, medication access, food insecurity, housing instability, childcare, and beyond. After each telemedicine session, a needs assessment report is compiled and provided to a social worker. The social worker acts on a case-by-case basis to connect patients with the resources, programs, and support they may be eligible for. Social workers allow the BFC to provide continuity of care in a time when vulnerable patients are especially likely to fall through the cracks. However, the BFC has historically paid for social worker services … We hope to use the $1,000 grant to defray the bulk of that cost.”

    “The Community Medicine Clinic plans to use the grant towards purchasing a laptop computer to conduct telemedicine visits via video. Our desktop monitors do not have built-in cameras so that we can perform video visits with our patients. Thus, we are conducting telehealth visits via telephone at this time.”

    “(At the St. Peter Community Free Clinic), we will purchase PPE such as surgical face masks (level 1 masks) for all patients to wear while being seen in the clinic … We would like to purchase additional physical barriers (room dividers) and signage for the clinic space to assure social distancing for our entrance, reception, and waiting areas … If possible, and if funds are remaining, we would like to purchase a used iPad for patients to allow us to do ‘reverse telehealth’ where the patient is present in the clinic (or parking lot) and the volunteer physician sees them from her or his home.”

    “We would like to buy … scales for home use that we could give to a few of our patients who are committed to managing their weight better. (At Cape Volunteers in Medicine), we suspect that obesity concerns will skyrocket as the shelter-in-place orders continue. If the patient had a home scale, we could do weekly telephone weight checks.”

    Thanks to additional support from The Humana Foundation, these and other grant recipient clinics have been surprised with the opportunity to receive an additional $10,000 grant as well. We will share their stories in the next issue.

    Want to support the vital work family physicians are doing at free clinics across the country? Donate to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund(www.aafpfoundation.org)