Range Community Clinic brings care to rural, underserved in eastern Washington
During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care needs did not stop and neither did the work of Range Community Clinic. The clinic, an affiliate of Washington State University, continues to focus on two key priorities: caring for the health and well-being of patients and providing valuable experiences for interprofessional health science students.
FULFILLING THE HEALTH CARE MISSION ON THE STREETS
In February 2020, Governor Jay Inslee exercised his emergency powers in response to COVID-19 by issuing the “Stay Home–Stay Healthy” proclamation. In the order, certain activities were prohibited to curb the spread of COVID-19, impacting access to health care for many people and particularly those experiencing homelessness.
Range Community Clinic bridged that gap by providing a range of care to more than 1,100 individuals experiencing homelessness, including everything from soothing blisters, treating Hepatitis A, and offering COVID-19 testing.
Beyond homelessness, other social vulnerabilities such as language access and undocumented status exacerbated health inequalities and access to care. Partnerships with the Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS), Latinos en Spokane, and the Tri-Cities Latino Community Network enabled the clinic to provide health care directly to those populations throughout Washington’s Spokane, Stevens, and Whitman counties.
INCREASING COVID-19 TESTING CAPACITY ON THE WSU PULLMAN CAMPUS
Although WSU had transitioned to a distance learning model for the fall 2020 semester, a large number of students returned to Pullman. This influx resulted in many students becoming infected with COVID-19 just after the start of the school year.
In response to the surge, Range Community Clinic was called upon to provide COVID-19 testing assistance to the WSU Pullman campus. Testing a total of 573 students, the William A. Crosetto Mobile Health Care Unit served as a bridge to the launch of a fixed testing site operated by Cougar Health Services the following week.
OFFERING VALUABLE INTERPROFESSIONAL CLINICAL EXPERIENCES
In fall 2020, Range Community Clinic hosted its first WSU Health Sciences student as well as a Providence family medicine resident. Since then, the clinic has provided clinical experiences to more than 50 interprofessional health science learners. The Range Community Clinic rural health rotation is proving to be one of the most popular and satisfying clinical rotations offered to WSU students.
LAUNCHING TECHNOLOGY TO SUPPORT PATIENT CARE
In November 2020, Range Community Clinic established its own information technology infrastructure. This traveling wi-fi network is hosted on the William A. Crosetto Mobile Health Care Unit and provides access to virtual resources for health care delivery. Based on this digital foundation, Range Community Clinic is in the final stages of implementing its electronic health record (EHR) system and planning for the implementation of telemedicine services.
PROVIDING CRITICAL VACCINES TO COMMUNITIES
Vaccines continue to be a key component of disease prevention and healthy living. Since launching, Range Community Clinic has given 1,790 vaccines and served as an active participant in Washington State’s Adult Vaccine and Vaccine for Children Programs to promote and protect the health of our communities. Under these programs, the clinic can provide the following vaccines to insured and uninsured patients alike:
- Whooping Cough
- Hepatitis B
EXPANDING THE SCOPE OF SERVICES
In 2021, Range Community Clinic announced its expansion into offering eye care to patients.
Modeled after the Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) program, the clinic partnered with the Washington Academy of Eye Professionals and Surgeons (WAEPS) and Madigan Army Medical Hospital in a joint venture that will allow the team to act as a mobile ophthalmology office.
A first of its kind in eastern Washington, the mobile eye clinic will provide eye examinations; diagnose conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and conjunctivitis; and prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses.
EXPANDING OUR REACH
Moving into 2022, Range Community Clinic plans to grow its services as well as its regional impact. The clinic hopes to develop another mobile health unit that can provide services to more underserved urban and rural communities across the state as well as expand the range of examination and treatment options available.