The front of Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo's Calexico Medical Clinic at 223 W. Cole Blvd. is shown. Clinicas officials closed the clinic April 10 after three employees tested positive for COVID-19. The clinic is slated to re-open April 20 after the facility is sterilized and cleaned, Clinicas officials said in a press release. County Public Health Department and Clinicas officials recently spoke to this newspaper about efforts to re-open the facility. | FILE PHOTO
CALEXICO — Four of Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo Inc. staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at its Calexico clinic at 223 W. Cole Blvd., Clinicas officials confirmed April 15.
“In keeping with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, Clinicas initiated the notification/monitor process by informing staff, patients and vendors of potential exposure to the coronavirus” late last week, Yvonne Bell, Clinicas chief executive officer, stated in a series of emailed answers to this newspaper’s questions April 15.
Patients with upcoming appointments in Calexico were contacted to reschedule their in-clinic appointments at other health centers. In other cases, patients were provided medical care access by telephone with the Calexico medical care providers who have now relocated to other parts of the Clinicas De Salud health care network, Bell stated.
“Employees of (the) Calexico Clinic at home are in contact with Clinicas and are being constantly monitored for potential signs of the virus to ensure their well-being,” Bell stated.
Bell shed some light on when the clinic plans to reopen.
“Medical providers from the Calexico clinic are still providing access to care to their patients via phone calls and/or referral to other health centers within Clinicas’ network. The Calexico Clinic will reopen on April 27,” she stated.
Initially, a media advisory from Clinicas officials released late last week, the Calexico clinic was to reopen April 20.
“Clinicas’ top priority has been to ensure patient, staff and community safety, and its staff have taken numerous steps behind the scenes in preparation of potential local cases and community spread of COVID-19. This included closely monitoring and working with Imperial and Riverside County Public Health Departments and the CDC, by staying current with up-to-date guidelines in regard to the Coronavirus (COVID -19),” stated Rosendo “Rusty” Garcia, chairperson of the Clinicas board, in an April 15 email.
Bell explained the screening process for a patient who enters one of the Clinicas’ health centers: “Prior to entering one of Clinicas’ health centers, all people are screened by a medical staff member wearing personal protective equipment. This includes everyone, from patients, staff and visitors. Clinicas staff are also screening all patients for COVID-19 over the phone before patients come into the health centers.”
Some of precautions Clinicas’ put into place to proactively mitigate exposure to the virus included an isolated triage area for respiratory patients, controlled patient/visitor ingress/egress to reduce unnecessary community contact, screening of visitors prior to entering patient areas and social distancing among patients and staff.
Patients with flu-like symptoms have been instructed to call Clinicas prior to departing to the facility and upon arrival. Next, they are screened and advised on next steps to be taken. Medical services continue for emergency in-person visits at Clinicas, Bell stated.
Over-the-telephone visits are routinely utilized if patients’ medical care needs are assessed as non-emergency. Dental and optometry services remain available for emergency visits only.
Maria Peinado of the Imperial County Public Health Department explained the process of reopening a business once it has had a mass contamination of COVID-19:
“Any agency that decides to close their business due to COVID-19 does not require a clearance from the Public Health Department to open. It is left to the discretion of the agency. All businesses and agencies need to maintain healthy business operations at all times. Per the official CDC protocols, agencies and businesses should perform enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility.”