SIDNEY — Wilson Health is getting creative to help their patients stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing curb-side service for its Coumadin Clinic.
Patients visit the clinic weekly or biweekly to check their blood to regulate their medications and diet, which helps prevent blood clots, and lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.
Wilson Health’s Coumadin Clinic added the curb-side service on March 16, said Carol Berning, the clinic’s full time registered nurse. Mid March, when Gov. Mike DeWine signed orders that began closing businesses, Berning said she knew they needed to take steps to help keep their patients safe.
Margo O’Leary, Wilson Health’s director of marketing-communications said, “Our Coumadin Clinic is one service that can’t be ‘canceled’ or ‘put on hold.’ The Coumadin Clinic is an innovative program designed to meet the special needs of patients on Coumadin. Close monitoring maximizes the benefits of patients’ therapy and minimizes their risk of complications.”
“As you know, throughout this pandemic we’ve had to continue to care for patients but change processes and protocols accordingly,” O’Leary continued. “Anticoagulant medications, such as the commonly prescribed blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin), play an important role in treating and managing many health conditions. Patients on Coumadin must have frequent blood tests, called PT/INR, to assure the effect of the blood thinner remains in the desired range.”
Berning said, “In listening to the governor, I knew my patients were watching the same thing. And the impact the governor made, it was scary to hear everything that he and Dr. Acton were talking about. And I knew that my patients and the risk factors they have, they were not going to come into this hospital to have their INRs checked. When you are taking Coumadin, you cannot go without having our INRs checked; there are too many risk factors. So I knew this was something that we were going to have to provide.”
Appointments are pre-set by the clinic staff. Patients then pull up to the outside of the clinic and stay inside their vehicle at their appointment time. One of the clinic’s nurses recognizes the patient’s car and then comes out to take a blood measurement for the pharmacist to determine and recommend the necessary dosage amount of the patient’s medication.
“Patients have the option to come in, but most of our patients are very thankful they don’t have to come into the hospital environment. And it is limiting the number of people who are coming into the hospital with the situation that’s happening now. This is one more thing we can do to help our patients,” Berning said. “If I have a new patient, then they come in because there is a lot of education. But I’ve only had a handful of (existing) patients come into the clinic since the change, who are already in the hospital for something else that day.”
Sidney resident Judy Cartwright is one of the clinic’s patients who was happy and grateful to learn curb-side service is available.
“It is great. I have problems with my knees so I have a little roller-walker. It was a little bit of struggle some days because my knees hurt, and now I can just sit in the car. It’s great,” Cartwright said. “It’s pretty well set up and the (nurses) are pretty cool. The girl are great.”
The patient’s doctor makes the referral to the clinic after they have been assessed. Patients can get their results in less than 10 minutes, according to Wilson Health.
“You pull up to the side there, and right now they have a sign out there, so there is no doubt about where to go. And they come out dressed in their garb, they have their cap, some of them wear goggles and their mask and their gloves on and it’s all a very clean procedure,” Cartwright said. “You pull up and have your window down and stick your hand out, they wipe your finger off and stick it. It’s like a blood sugar stick, where they stick you and put the blood on a little thing and get the numbers and send that information to the pharmacist and he determines how much drug you are going to take.”
Prior to the change, her son worried, and remains very protective, about her leaving the house over safety concerns amid COVID-19.
“In fact, my son had (initially) decided I wasn’t going to do this. He was being very protective that I wasn’t going to go out of the house. And so we had a little talk, and I told him, ‘You have got to remember that this is important as far as the clotting of my blood is concerned. And I’m going to be in a place where it is very safe; I’m going to be in my car. All they are going to touch is my finger with their gloves on. And they have got all of the things on their body to keep germs away, and they spray and wash their hands and do all that stuff that is good so they don’t transfer bad germs anywhere.’ And after that, he understood and he was perfectly OK,” Cartwright said.
She has been visiting the clinic by the curb-side method since the end of March.
“The goal is for our patients is just to keep them as healthy as possible,” Berning said. “I would say that is the reason I decided to go with this curb-side service, because a lot of our patients — they are not all elderly — but I would say they are in that risk factor age group. And this is just one thing that we can do to help prevent them from possibly coming in contact with anything.”
Wilson Health’s Coumadin Clinic’s hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday, 7 a.m. to noon. The clinic is located at 915 W. Michigan St. To come inside, patients should enter through outpatient services entrance. The clinic can be reached at 937-494-5209.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.