CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A low-cost clinic will continue to be able to offer Telehealth help to patients thanks to a grant.
Care Ring in Charlotte serves people who are underinsured or uninsured, and now they will keep aiding them by extending this electronic service.
What You Need to Know
Care Ring, a low-cost clinic in Charlotte, received a $50,000 grant to improve Telehealth services
The clinic has used Telehealth to serve patients with COVID-19 and people facing other barriers
Telehealth visits made up more than half of the visits at the clinic from July 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021
Last year, the clinic started offering patients the option to have doctor visits over the phone.
The North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and Blue Cross North Carolina awarded Care Ring a $50,000 grant to continue improving the delivery of healthcare through virtual and Telehealth services.
From July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, Telehealth made up 54% of the provider visits.
The clinic has used the service since the start of the pandemic to serve patients who can’t make it to the office, including those with COVID-19.
“A lot of patients, we're trying to keep away from the acute care hospitals being overfilled … so the ones that we can manage at home safely, we're trying to do that,” Care Ring Nurse Practitioner Amy Leblanc said.
The service has also allowed them to serve patients who face other barriers, including transportation.
“We noticed that they were canceling their visits, that they were unable to afford their visits, that they had transportation barriers or that they were experiencing challenges on their job, and we don't want people to lack care because of those circumstances that are very much outside of their control,” Care Ring’s Executive Director Tchernavia Montgomery said.
Nora Maldonado, one of the clinic’s patients, contracted COVID-19 in July.
“I didn’t have strength to get out of bed. I don’t wish it on anyone. It’s something very tough,” Maldonado said.
While in quarantine, she used the Telehealth services in Spanish, her preferred language.
“They called me to check on me and to recommend or prescribe medications,” Maldonado said.
Through her checkups over the phone, the medical staff at the clinic recommended for her to check her oxygen levels.
When her oxygen levels dropped, they recommended she go to the hospital where she spent a few days.
“When you know someone is monitoring you, even through the phone, you feel calm,” Maldonado said.
Maldonado is grateful the Telehealth services were an option for her while she was sick until she could return to the doctor in person again.
Montgomery said this grant will allow the clinic to continue serving the community.
“Right now, as we're managing and mitigating some of the circumstances around the delta variant and other variants that are to come, having a Telehealth option ensures that our patients will continue to have seamless care,” Montgomery said.
The clinic, like many other free and charitable clinics across the state, saw an increase in new patients. According to NCAFCC, their clinics across the state had a surge of more than 20,000 new patients in 2020 — some with COVID-19 and many who lost their jobs and health insurance.