Below are stories in the words of three Virginia Garcia providers

I am always proud of the customer service we provide our patients and that is still true in these tough COVID-19 times.

As we were “scrubbing” a patient’s chart to prepare for COVID-19 tests at our drive-through site, we realized it was a patient’s birthday.  The staff felt compassion for this patient coming to test for COVID-19 on his birthday.

When the patient drove up to the testing area, we noticed that he seemed very sick, highly stressed, and worried.  I have to say that in addition to this situation, the test is not fun at all! After the collector removed the specimen through the nasopharyngeal procedure, the staff shouted “Happy Birthday!” and clapped for the patient. The expression on his face immediately changed. The frown on his face became a smile. He looked at us for a while, looking surprised, but happy. He was not expecting that for sure! He drove away with a big smile on his face.

I also observed the staff comforting the patients throughout the test: “we are almost done,” “place hand in there,” “just a few more seconds,” “we know it doesn’t feel good,” “you are doing great!” We try our best to make the patient feel good during the uncomfortable COVID-19 testing.

It was a heartfelt moment for the staff at VG and for the patient as well. At VG, we really take the time to ensure our patient have a great experience, especially during this difficult time.

Virginia Garcia’s Cornelius Wellness Center screening team.

One of our nurses referred a family to me for help. In the family of 6, both parents have tested positive for COVID-19, and all 4 of the kids are showing symptoms, too. They are supposed to be quarantined, but didn’t have food at home. I took them a food box from the Hillsboro Senior Center. They don’t have family in the area to shop for them, and once one of the parents started showing symptoms, there wasn’t someone else to care for their minor kids.

We have an elderly patient in the hospital with COVID-19. His 80-year-old wife (also a VG patient) and his son have to stay home because it’s presumed they’ve been exposed. I couldn’t reach them by phone, I connected with their emergency contact (daughter living elsewhere). The wife didn’t want to answer the phone because she was worried it was the hospital calling to say her husband had died. I took her medication to her home. She has diabetes and other conditions, and was on her last pill when I brought the refills. I inquired about the husband, and she said last she heard he had his eyes open, trying to communicate, and is hopefully coming off a ventilator soon.

Our patients are experiencing a lot of food insecurity as a lot of our partner groups’ food banks had been run by elderly volunteers and have shut down. Or they operate on the school calendar, and are closed because schools are closed.

It’s hardest for our undocumented patients who’ve been laid off and can’t get economic relief benefits.

I feel deep sorrow and shame about the way many of our patients and people of our community have been treated. Over the last several years, there has been an increase in physical and mental health complaints that stem from family and community disruption from ICE raids and the fear of personal or family member deportation. We have seen undocumented pregnant women who refuse basic prenatal care for fear of Public Charge consequences. And now, when many of these same people call in with viral symptoms and request medical advice, we are asking them to stay home and not go to work. The response that I hear from many of our Latino patients and immigrant patients is that this simply is just not possible. Due to the marginalization, criminalization, and economic realities of these patients, we expect the COVID-19 virus to disproportionately affect the Latino population in our community. Indeed, there are reports across the country that people of color are relatively infected more and dying at higher rates than white people. This virus is exposing the economic, social and health inequities of our society. I fear that some people will view the higher rates of infection of Latinos not as a symptom of inequity, but rather will scapegoat them as the cause of the COVID-19 problem.

Virginia Garcia screening Team for Yamhill County.

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