In the age of coronavirus, the not-for-profit North East Community Action Corporation [NECAC] is practicing “telemedicine” and “curbside clinics.”
The agency is encouraging clients of the Family Planning and Women, Infants and Children [WIC] programs to stay at home. For those who feel they must keep their appointments that were made weeks ago, a few new guidelines are in place.
“We continue to serve clients, but we want them to be safe and we want to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus,” said NECAC deputy director for Community Health Programs Brenda Fuqua. “We have initiated protocols during this ongoing health emergency while still serving the medical priorities of people who need our services.”
Clients are evaluated by telephone before appointments are made and any who show symptoms of coronavirus will be asked to stay at home and contact a healthcare provider. So far, no one has been turned away, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised those with symptoms to avoid public places and contact with other people.
Existing Family Planning patients can have their prescriptions refilled for three months. They must pick them up at the Family Planning centers or have them called in to a pharmacy. They can still get a three-month shot for birth control, but it will be administered curbside only.
New patients will be assessed via telephone consult before an examination is scheduled. They’ll be asked where they’ve traveled recently and whether they’ve experienced any symptoms of the virus – fever, heavy cough, difficulty breathing.
The WIC program will continue to serve clients and enroll new participants, but all people should call before an appointment is kept or made. Vouchers for food will still be distributed. WIC participants may choose from expanded food options to help address shortages brought on by the virus outbreak.
“We do ask everyone to please keep in mind that things are very fluid right now, and it’s tough to adapt because regulations seem to change daily,” Fuqua said. “Rest assured that NECAC Family Planning and WIC will continue to serve clients unless further changes are implemented at the federal and state levels.”
Family Planning offers a wide range of medical help. Licensed staff and volunteer doctors provide services to more than 5,000 patients in 12 counties each year. WIC is a supplemental food and health care program that serves more than 17,000 clients each year in Warren and St. Charles counties.
NECAC has Family Planning clinics in Hannibal, Bowling Green, Warrenton
People with questions or those who need assistance may call NECAC Family Planning at (573) 221-3404 or the NECAC WIC program (636) 240-7350.