In this episode, two nurse practitioners from Pine Ridge Family Health Center, a clinic for Topeka Housing Authority residents, discuss the role of community partnerships in COVID testing, treatment, and vaccine distribution. Patrick Muchina is the Family Nurse Practitioner Manager for the clinic, and Dr. Amanda Hartman cares for patients there part-time in addition to teaching at the Washburn University School of Nursing.
Pine Ridge has been providing COVID testing throughout the pandemic and received grant funding to do rapid testing at the clinic. This means that patients living in the public housing community can walk to the center to receive a rapid test. “We are smack in the middle of an actual living, breathing neighborhood,” says Dr. Hartman. “We work amongst where our patients live.” Pine Ridge has also been referring out to their county health department for PCR testing throughout the pandemic.
Because of its small size, Pine Ridge did not qualify to receive Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but at the time of recording they were in the process of getting Johnson & Johnson doses. The center has been working hard to help community members access the vaccine in the meantime, especially for geriatric patients who may not have internet access or knowledge. Mr. Muchina describes not just calling and searching for vaccine appointments on behalf of patients, but also reaching out for possible transportation resources.
When asked about patients who may be hesitant about receiving the vaccine, Dr. Hartman and Mr. Muchina both agree that empathy is key. Mr. Muchina describes his experience and perspective as an African American man as key to reaching patients of the same demographic, including using his own COVID vaccine story. “I wanted to protect myself,” he shares. “I know when I protect myself, I’ve protected everybody around me, which includes my family, too.” He also encourages his patients to seek out COVID-related information from reputable sites like CDC’s website and the local health department, rather than what might be shared on Facebook.
On supporting students through the stress of the pandemic, Dr. Hartman says her views as a practitioner and teacher have evolved. “It’s really challenged my perspective of that professionalism, façade, almost, that we put on as provider and as faculty members.” Debriefing with her students on the emotions and stress that they are feeling has been beneficial for everyone.
This project was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number NU50CK000580). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this resource center do not necessarily represent the policy of CDC or HHS, and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.