Caring for Our Communities during COVID-19 – 4/8/20

While NMAC has faced serious challenges due to the COVID pandemic, we know that our community based partners are facing enormous pressures.

Jason Kirk, Director of Development and Marketing at Palmetto Community Care in Charleston, SC, recently shared this with us:

At Palmetto Community Care, it has been a major adjustment to maintain services with staff all working remotely to continue to provide services to our HIV-positive clients. Costs incurred to continue normal business operation include procurement of additional laptops, internet service support for staff, increased IT usage and demand and phone service upgrades. Each additional expenditure is an added and unplanned cost that we will need to fundraise for or make budget adjustments to continue to complete our mission. In addition, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend our HIV and STI testing services and encourage those who believe that they have recent exposure to work with our state health department in an emergency. We are looking out for the health of our staff and those who seek testing due to the close proximity needed for testing. Overall, we are doing our very best and additional funding and donations would help alleviate shortfalls from delayed or cancelled events and fundraisers.

“I think that clients are anxious and some are concerned about getting their medications in the future; MCMs have been reaching out to all clients to check on them but it has been hard adjusting to working from home. MCMs are working their hardest to ensure that clients’ needs are continuing to be met in every way possible. Our Specialized Medical Case Manager is getting all medications delivered to her house instead of to our agency, and our outreach team are delivering medications via car. I think we take technology for granted and obviously we are working on personal computers and adapting best we can. I think that we will get better at working from home in the near future.

“Clients are continuing to call and it is business as usual in that respect. I think we need more technology and guidance from funders. HOPWA and SC DHEC have been rather vague in regards to what is being required for MCMs to have as far as signatures, consents, etc in order for us to ensure that clients can continue to have access to everything. For example ADAP recerts need signature and proof of income and it is hard to request those from clients who may not even have a cell phone and we are social distancing.“ – Jennifer Benvenuto, Medical Case Management Program Manager

Overall, this is new territory and we are using unfamiliar technology and systems, but we are working our hardest to ensure that our clients are not forgotten and do not fall through any cracks left by this pandemic.