During the pandemic, Sun River Health staff stepped up to ensure patient care remained strong and resources were distributed to the areas most in need. From providers, to facilities, front line workers and support staff – everyone played their part in helping health centers operate to their fullest capacity in order to safeguard continuity of care for all those who turn to Sun River Health for their medical needs.
Our mobile health center made regular visits to homeless shelters and treatment centers to provide convenient medical care to residents. In addition, staff went above and beyond in partnership with local organizations to make sure that patients were connected to vital support services to address needs that arose from the pandemic, including lack of transportation, access to medicine and vital supplies, food insecurity and the need for community.
We were proud to partner with several community organizations to offer 14 pop-up COVID-19 testing sites throughout the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. Providing more COVID-19 tests for patients since March 2020, pop-up testing was mobilized quickly to fulfill the need for safe testing. Nine of these pop-up testing sites were in Suffolk County to accommodate the lack of accessibility to testing, especially for those on the East End of Long Island. Through these pop-up testing sites, many new patients were referred for follow-up care to one of our health centers.
“Nutrition counseling over the phone. How can this work? Without our usual visual aids, food models, measuring cups, and charts demonstrating sugar amounts in common foods and beverages, will we still be able to educate our patients? The answer is – yes!
“We all know how difficult it is to recall what we’ve done in the past 24 hours, much less every detail about what we have eaten and when. Since beginning our telephone nutrition visits, some of us have found that while standing in their own kitchens, patients are even better able to remember what they have consumed. One of our patients was able to go into her refrigerator and describe not only the foods that she had eaten, but portion sizes based on what she had remaining. She talked through the stock in her kitchen, and nutrition label demonstrations were done using the food that she had in her own home. She jokingly admitted to ‘having the evidence right in front of her.’
“Over the phone, we can talk our patient through ways to use the food they have, without panicking over the need to go out and buy all new items. This has been a great deal during the current pandemic.”
Carlos Ortiz, our Suffolk County VP of Operations, remembered that nine suction units were left in our Suffolk County health centers after we assumed their operation a few years ago and offered them back to one of our hospital partners.
“When the Suffolk County clinics were transitioned to become HRHCare health centers, we discovered suction pump units that were left in all the sites. We decided that we didn’t need them, so we removed them. I took all the suction pumps and just stored them in my office in Amityville. On Sunday, after hearing the Governor speak, it occurred to me that these machines could be used by a hospital to treat patients with COVID-19. They might really need them! I sent an email to John McMurray, the COO of Good Sam Hospital, and told him we could donate the nine suction pumps that we had. He told me that my email came as a miracle, as they had ordered 25 suction pumps but had no idea when they would finally get them. So, I brought them what we had.” –Carlos Ortiz, HRHCare VP of Operations
Good Samaritan Hospital COO John McMurray shared the following message with Carlos:
“Carlos, I wanted to take a minute, during these crazy times, to express our gratitude to you and the HRHCare team for the donation of nine suction pumps. The suction pumps will be used in conjunction with our ICU surge plans in support of our increased vented patient population. Again, thank you for your generosity and continued partnership.” — John A. McMurray, Chief Operating Officer & SVP of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, Catholic Health Services of Long Island
Sun River Health has now administered over 55,000 COVID-19 vaccination shots throughout our network of 43 health centers and pop-up locations. Our staff have gotten great feedback from both new and old patients who received the vaccine through our efforts.
Mary, a patient who received her vaccine at the Sun River Health Kraus Family Health Center in Southampton, had the following to share: “…Thank you for allowing me to finally get my first COVID-19 vaccination this morning. I was able to get to the facility within five minutes, as I live in Southampton and there was no line. I was provided with a wheelchair and paperwork assistance and taken to get the shot. Everyone involved in the process was so helpful from beginning to end and were absolutely delightful to deal with – and I told them so! Turns out in my life of too many needles to count, it was one of the nicest experience I’ve ever had! So, many thanks to you, my guardian angels.”
Senior Director of Business Development Melissa Hayes shared a story about the impact our NYC Mobile Health Center is making on residents of two facilities on Wards Island.
“Today, our NYC Mobile Health Center went to Wards Island to visit HELP USA Keener, a 300-bed men’s facility, and the Volunteers of America Schwartz Assessment Shelter, a 335-bed men’s facility. Words cannot express the abundance of gratitude we received from the staff. Many patients have a host of unmet chronic medical conditions. Many don’t have phones, they are scared to travel, and need chronic disease management and medications.
Mr. Jones from Wards Island shared, ‘Just speaking to a doctor will give our guys something to look forward to and some hope… We are calling EMS for patient complaints that can be met by your team; back pain, medications running low, high blood pressure, foot pain… EMS cannot keep up with the abundance of calls coming from our site, and furthermore, aren’t as responsive as they once were.’
I held a strategy discussion around increasing access to care at both facilities. Continuing our presence would help, and I requested that we increase our visits to twice weekly. NYU Langone continues to be their onsite provider, but the facilities continue to struggle with managing the needs of 600 residents, given the hours of operation.
Speaking with Mr. Jones touched my heart and served as a testament to our cause. We are truly adding value to our communities during this time and must keep going. Our communities need us, and the state needs us.”
—Melissa Hayes, Senior Director-Business Development