Like millions of Americans whose lives have been disrupted by 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, preventive health care has not been the top priority for Maisha Cole of Richmond.
“As a parent, my focus has been on my children,” said Cole, who has a middle schooler and a child in elementary school. “I knew I was supposed to go in for a blood pressure check a couple of months ago, but because of timing and COVID-19, it wasn’t possible.”
She was “amazed,” however, when she got a call from her Kaiser Permanente doctor’s office to make an appointment that could take care of all her preventive care in one place at one time: blood pressure, a routine blood draw, an eye exam, and a COVID-19 test.
“They booked all my appointments back-to-back, and it was done in less than an hour,” said Cole. “They did it all in one place.”
The clinic is set up so that members can walk in or make appointments for vaccines and for those like Cole who receive reminders for preventive care checkups.
Thomas Bradley, BSN, RN, who was the Emergency Department manager for 14 years at the Oakland Medical Center, was brought in earlier this year to make the COVID-19 and flu vaccination center at the Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center a one-stop-shop for preventive care.
“For the people who haven’t seen their doctors in over a year who are coming in for their COVID-19 or flu shot, we say, ‘While you’re here, let’s check your eyes, maybe have a look at your meds,’ and then we synchronize with the pharmacy, the lab, ophthalmology, primary care physicians, and the chronic conditions team,” said Bradley.
The clinic also recently added an area to administer monoclonal antibodies to COVID-19 patients to prevent worsening of symptoms that would require hospitalization, Bradley said.
To bring the high-volume clinic to an operational level, Bradley turned to Kaiser Permanente Assistant Medical Group Administrator Donovan Taylor, MHA, BSN, RN, and Medical Group Administrator Goran Kalas, MBA, to help expedite administrative requirements. Taylor also leveraged his experience setting up large-scale U.S. military clinics and brought best practices on speed and efficiency from his observation in the spring and summer of other Kaiser Permanente Northern California COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
“We knew we had to be super accommodating and make it easy for our members,” said Bradley. “Instead of sending them to another building for a lab test, we do it right here. Same with retinal scans for diabetes patients. For mammograms we walk them over to radiology and get them in at the same time.”
Since the beginning of July, the COVID-19 and flu vaccine clinic in Richmond has performed 8,244 blood pressure readings, 1,585 blood draws, 1,343 eye exams for diabetes patients, and 33 mammograms.
“We don’t like lines,” Bradley said of the Richmond clinic’s zeal for efficiency, adding that each clinician is cross trained in several clinical tasks such as blood pressure, vaccines, blood draws, or retinal scans, to keep them fresh and engaged.
Sheila Williams, who works in the finance department for the city of Richmond, was in the clinic recently getting her blood pressure checked. She had put it off and knew she should get it done.
“Since COVID-19 started, I haven’t been in,” said Williams. “It’s great to know that if I ever have any second thoughts about what I need to get done, I can just walk up in here.”