Barb Cronin’s story about navigating through the “COVID-19 Maize”
Monday, March 23, 2020
I am the Executive Director of Mission Medical Center (MMC), a nonprofit healthcare provider for uninsured low-income residents of the Pikes Peak Region. MMC has been serving the Colorado Springs, CO community since 2004 as a free clinic. I made the decision to keep the clinic open because people still have medical needs not related to COVID-19. Our patients still need their insulin and blood pressure medications. Patients with chronic illness are still in need of follow up visits as part of their treatment programs. I implemented certain procedures to protect our volunteer staff, everyone that has direct patient contact will wear the PPE (personal; protective equipment) we now hear so much about. I had to assist Dr. Joe Bush “gown up” today. There are a lot of yellow folks walking around Mission Medical. All support staff will at minimum wear surgical masks. Last week MMC provided masks and hand sanitizer at several locations throughout the facility for patient use. The Primary Care Clinic had a larger number of patients reschedule or cancel their appointments today.
As a result of the coronavirus, in consultation with Dr. Mark Goncalves, MMC Medical Director and Dr. Ronald Palmer MMC lead Dentist I have canceled all Dental clinics indefinitely. Having a dentist and assistant actually in a patient’s mouth is just too risky at this juncture. A similar action for the MMC Vision Clinic will immediately go into effect, no new fittings for eyeglasses. Patients that have glasses on order can come for pick up, but measuring for new glasses puts our staff at rick. These important services will be resumed as soon as safely possible.
I have been watching NY Governor Andrew Cuomo give his detailed updates, so when he was on his brothers CNN program, I not only learned more about COVID-19, but was thoroughly entertained but both brothers straight faced back and forth. It was nice to get a few laughs in an otherwise serious time.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Today was a very light day with 2 providers staying home and almost all patients rescheduling for a later time. As the day went on I began to feel sluggish and sick, with a cough starting to set in. Since there were no afternoon appointments the staff left early, and I did as well.
When I got home around 4:00 PM I took my temperature, 99.6. A couple hours later I was 98.8 and back over 99 when I went to bed.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
I feel horrible, I still have a low-grade fever, stuffed up and the chills. My husband told me the first thing to do is check with one of our doctors when I get into Mission Medical. The yellow clad MMC crew was in full swing treating our patients, I am proud to be a part of this team! Dr. Bush told me to get tested or at a minimum self-quarantine for the next 14 days. Dr. Goncalves told me to go get tested.
MMC’s patients are observing the stay at home order, and rescheduling appointments. Since the provider for tomorrow was not feeling well, we closed the clinic for Thursday.
My husband and son called and told me to get going. I chose to sit in on a webinar, “Coronavirus and Safety net Clinics”. My husband walked in and saying “let’s go”. He was talking to our insurance carrier, they said we are covered for testing, but had no idea where to go. So we went off to the closest hospital. Since we were in 2 cars I followed my husband into the Emergency Department parking lot. He went to find out where to go for testing and into the ED we went. I had been wearing a mask all day, so I was 1 step up; right in the vestibule, before entering the building they took everyone’s temperature, ask my symptoms and went through a series of questions about travel and contact with other people recently. We both received a wristband and went into the waiting room. To my surprise, we were the only 2 people there at 11:30 AM. After just 10 minutes I was called, the nurse stopped my husband and told him to leave, not just the ED but the hospital. I was examined and questioned and then sent out to get tested. It seems the hospital is only testing in-patients at this time. I was sent to a test center not open to the public “for healthcare workers only” on the southwest side of Colorado Springs. Once there I was informed this location was testing only Centura employees. I asked where can I go to get tested and was told the staff did not know of anywhere that was testing. The next bright spot they provided was testing was running at least 7 days to get results.
It sounded a lot different when I was watching the briefings on TV. My husband called me and said go the drive-up test site in Memorial Park. I knew it had been closed for several day, but I didn’t have any idea were else to go, so headed to the park. My husband had earlier called the El Paso County Health Department and the phone was answered “all calls are going o voicemail and we will call you back.” The person was calling back from home, as evidenced by the dog barking in the background. She was very positive, except to say their experience was results taking 7 – 12 days to get back to the patient. He called her back and was told the Springs Medical Associates were administering the COVID-19 tests. I headed that way, sort of. I have no sense of direction, so when I encountered a construction site, I had no idea how to get to doctor’s office. The staff at Springs Medical Associates was terrific! I was asked about my symptoms, low grade fever, chills staffed head and by now shortness of breath. After going through my list the receptionist said “terrific, sorry, I just meant you qualify for the test.” I needed the levity at that point. The tested was not painful, just uncomfortable, a long q-tip swab way up into my nose. The actual test was less than a minute. When the test was complete they said results hopefully in 48 to 72 hours.
All this took from 11:15 AM until 3:30 PM. I guess I was lucky to find a site and get tested.
I feel worse than bad. I am really dragging. As I watch the coverage of coronavirus most of the TV coverage is about the surging number of deaths, I watched a recorded dog show and went to bed.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
I am staying at home. My husband went into MMC to set me up to work from home for the foreseeable future. This is the worst I have felt in this entire ordeal. My husband son and I have designated areas mostly where I can and cannot go in the house. I now have my own bathroom. They are walking around with gloves, and if a glove isn’t handy plastic bags on their hands. At least I get to control the TV remote for once. I still have the fever, chills, stuffed headed and no energy. I really enjoy watching Gov., Cuomo’s briefings; he has facts and a plan. I am just sitting and waiting to hear my results.
While the clinic was closed, Kevin the Pharmacy Manager went into to meet 2 patients for refills, 1 for insulin. That is really an everyday occurrence for the dedicated MMC staff.
Friday, March 27, 2020
I am still waiting. A shower at least makes me feel human, but the fever, chills and stuffed head are still with me. Today at least getting some work done remotely. This waiting is really awful.
In consultation with our Medical Director and a Board member that is an epidemiologist, we are closing Mission Medical Center until April 13th. This difficult measure is in an abundance of caution for our patients, staff and volunteers.
Late Friday, March 27, 2020
I called the doctor’s office, and they have not gotten my results back yet. Since the office is closed on the weekend, I won’t hear any results until at least Monday. My temperature is staying in the high 99s and low 100s. All day I have had a headache and chills. I keep hearing about some TV people and celebrities that have waited 10 days for results of their tests, I hope it doesn’t take that long.
A MMC Board member is an epidemiologist; in consulting with her and our Medical Director we are going to close Mission Medical until April 13th. This is an abundance of caution, but I think the correct decision.
Saturday, March 28, 2020
My temperature is started out at 100.2 and dropped throughout the day. In the evening it was at 98.9, and I am feeling a little better.
I started calling the staff for Monday to inform them to stay safe and stay home.
Since I know I will not hear any results it is try to learn more about COVID-19 and watch some TV. After a while the news stations are just repeating earlier broadcasts and stories. We spread out and continued our binge watching of LOST. The treat of the day was eating a couple of delicious, juicy oranges, I have to send my husband out to get some more.
Sunday, March 29, 2020
My temperature is started out at 99.2, but I am feeling a little better. My son and husband said I coughed a lot overnight. We had breakfast and I had a shower to feel better than before, the small pleasures are a big deal right now. I began to call the patients that would have to be rescheduled since MMC would be closed for the next 2 weeks. One problem that I foresaw was some of our patient’s needing prescription refills. I will go through the appointments for the next few days and then we can work out a plan with our pharmacy manager to possibly set some limited times and personal contact to get patients their refills. This little bit of work takes my mind off coronavirus and the waiting game. It is also great to talk to someone other than my son and husband.
Monday, March 30, 2020
Today is a really bad day. I felt so good in the late afternoon on Sunday, I kept telling me family "I am not sick". Today was 2 steps back. I had it all fever over 100, chills, headache (really pounding), aching all over, running nose and a persistent cough. This is by far my worst day.
Day 6 and no results. There may be more tests being done, but I am not sure there are more results being delivered to patients.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Not my best birthday by a long shot. All my symptoms still persist, just a little better. I have my "quarantine" area, wrapped in a blanket. My son and husband keep gloves and disinfectant wipes with them at all times. The second my mask drops below my nose someone is yelling at me to "put it up".
Day 7 and nothing in the way of results.
Wednesday April 1, 2020
I wish this was an April Fool's joke, but I am not laughing. I still feel very bad, with a significant lack of energy. When I do a little work, after just reading emails for a half hour I need a nap. It is getting disheartening watching TV and seeing the numbers of sick and dying rising quickly. I am starting to wonder if I am going to be one of those statistics.
Mission Medical and our partner, CU Medical School, Colorado Springs Branch are working to establish a telehealth arrangement so MMC patients can get some medical questions answered. The system will go live tomorrow. We are also working to have some hours scheduled for patients that need prescriptions refilled, people are still in need of treatment for non-coronavirus needs.
Day 8 and no word at all.
Thursday April 2, 2020
I have been enjoying watching Governor Cuomo's daily briefings. He provides facts about the COVID-19 spread in New York, details on what the state needs, today and in the future and salient reasons justifying the needs. He is quite a leader in this crisis.
I am feeling a little better today. I have said I don't want to be that person calling the doctor's office, they will call when they get my results. This afternoon I became that person, I am negative! I feel better already. My results say I am 70% clear of the coronavirus. I was told to keep monitoring my symptoms and get back to the doctor if I don't get any better. Now that I am don't have COVID-19, what has knocked me down for a week and a half? It took 9 days to find out my results.
I am going to sneak out an go to the post office to pick up Mission Medical's mail. There is a grant check from Pikes Peak Community Fund and regular contribution from First Lutheran Church. The trip to the post office and bank sent my to bed for a nap. I guess I am not as good as I felt for a few minutes earlier this afternoon.