How one healthcare system acted quickly to aid its community during COVID-19

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US hard and fast. Throughout the country, medical care facilities began to be inundated with sick patients, leaving medical personnel scrambling to serve the unprecedented numbers.

Desert Sage Health Centers, a rural Idaho health system based in Mountain Home, was no different. Within days, the organization was overwhelmed with calls and visits from worried patients. Onsite, the center’s dental clinic was shut down over health and safety concerns, putting its healthcare staff out of work and leaving them in limbo.

Paty Hernandez, the Medical Clinic Manager at Desert Sage Health Centers, explains: “When COVID hit, we thought, ‘How are we going to help our sick patients? How can we keep patients and staff safe and keep our staff employed with meaningful work?’”

Desert Sage Health Centers wasn’t solely focused on treating patients with COVID-19 symptoms. The health system also operated a Behavioral Health clinic that desperately needed to stay in operation and to see patients routinely.

Desert Sage Health Centers wasn’t going to sit idly by while its community suffered; patients needed to be seen and employees needed safe and meaningful work. The federally qualified health center soon began devising a plan to keep patients safely distanced from one another while getting them in quickly to see medical personnel. The plan also needed to include a way to provide jobs for those employees whose roles had been impacted or temporarily cut due to the pandemic.

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