CommunityHealth in an unexpected year
CommunityHealth – like many health care providers in 2020 – adapted our service model quickly to keep both patients and providers safe in the face
of a pandemic.
We quickly adopted a universal masking policy, enabled all staff to work from home at least part-time, distributed emergency food supplies, and even set up COVID-19 testing in the alley behind our building. This is not surprising – our model of care lends itself to innovation and flexibility. But we didn’t stop there.
Recognizing the opportunity inherent in some of these unplanned adjustments, CommunityHealth worked with a powerful collaborative of local health care funders, the Health First Fund, to evolve our pandemic response into a hub of health care transformation.
While CommunityHealth is proud to be recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home, we realized that there are limits to being truly “patient-centered” when many of our patients were taking as many as three buses each way to visit the clinic multiple times per year. These patients often had to take a full day off work, find child care, and navigate transportation hurdles to see their doctor, pick up medications, or have labs drawn.
When forced to implement telehealth due to COVID-19, we found that our no-show rates plummeted. Our patients were thrilled with the ease of seeing their doctor remotely. But we still faced challenges, like connectivity issues for video calls and the inability to draw labs or take vitals in a telehealth visit. This led to the development of our first telehealth microsite (launched in early 2021). But we didn’t stop there, either.
CommunityHealth moved its entire All In™ Chicago thought leadership event series online, attracting speakers and guests from all over the country to discuss solutions to ensure equitable access to health care – a topic further elevated by global pandemic.
And we found new ways to deliver other services – like canceling group classes and creating an enormous library of health education content on YouTube, providing telephone interpretation services for both in-person and virtual appointments, and much more.
While 2020 posed so many challenges, we are grateful to CommunityHealth’s many supporters who stepped up in so many ways to allow us to continue to grow and innovate in service of our patients.