The Fauquier County Free Clinic is still operating in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis. “We are still open, still taking care of people,” said executive director Rob Marino.
The Free Clinic, located at 35 Rock Pointe Lane in Warrenton provides comprehensive medical, dental and mental health care for residents in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties who meet household income eligibility requirements.
There have been some changes to operations, said Marino, as the clinic attempts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. He pointed out that the potential for transmission through dental care is very high. As a result, dental appointments are only for emergencies. “If someone is in pain, if there is an urgent need, we can help …” he said.
Marino said that the Free Clinic is attempting to dramatically reduce the foot traffic in the clinic. Many appointments are taking place by phone, for instance. “We are taking care of routine appointments through phone interactions, like arranging for someone’s diabetic medication. We even have volunteers making prescription deliveries to patients’ homes if they can’t get out.”
Some patients who are ill are still coming into the clinic. A clinician will meet them at the door and take them back to an exam room, so they don’t spend time in the waiting room, Marino said. Some of the chairs have been taken out of the waiting room, making it impossible for people to linger.
Marino said that if anyone has any “scary symptoms, like a fever or a cough, they should call first and we’ll do a preliminary screening over the phone,” before deciding what intervention might be necessary.
The clinic’s mental health services are provided mostly through a telehealth program. Normally, patients come to the clinic to meet with their counselors or psychiatrists through a secure internet connection. “We are relaxing that rule and allowing patients to access that service from home in some cases. Our clinicians are looking at those on a case by case basis,” said Marino. “It’s a blessing that we already have that set up.”
He reminded patients -- and potential patients -- that the Free Clinic is not a walk-in clinic. “We see patients by appointment.”
And, he added, “We are not a testing center. We don’t do testing” for the coronavirus. “The number of tests available is excruciatingly limited, anyway.”
Marino said the clinic has enough personal protection equipment to protect his team -- for now. “We are scared, though, that we are going to run out. We are trying to conserve them the best we can.”
In general, Marino said the clinic is running well. “People keep coming in to help and to volunteer. We are doing OK.”
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