Gulf Coast patient seeks answers; Health Center initiating telemedicine program

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, March 25, 2020

June Miller is pretty much a homebound person; she’s on a fixed income and gets paid once a month.

So she makes one trip, goes out and pays bills.

“This is the norm for me,” Miller said via phone on Monday. “It’s really the one time I went out and got into the public.”

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There was an exception in late February and again on March 4 when she visited the Gulf Coast Health Center on Memorial Boulevard. Now she’s waiting anxiously to find out if she came into contact with the unnamed healthcare worker at the clinic who tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s such a fluke I went there,” she said. “I’m concerned about the community because so many people use that clinic and obviously concerned about the worker.”

Her concern is exacerbated because after that last trip to the clinic she decided to go to her church. She hadn’t seen them in a while.

She’s now concerned she may have come in contact with someone with coronavirus and, in her longing for her church, unintentionally spread the virus to others.

Miller has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, but does not have symptoms of the virus.

Gulf Coast Health Center in Port Arthur is working with the city and county health departments.

Dr. Marsha Thigpen, executive director of Gulf Coast, said both agencies have all information needed.

Telemedicine, prescriptions

While the clinic itself is closed, Gulf Coast officials are working to initiate telemedicine.

“We have some providers working from home who have their laptops,” Thigpen said. “Patients can call in and either speak to the provider by phone or if we get the video conferencing up, can do a visit by that.”

If patients can check their vitals from home, that information can be given to the healthcare provider who can place the information into the progress notes and allow the provider to prescribe medication. The medication then can be picked up at a local pharmacy.

Gulf Coast has contracts with Walgreens and Walmart in Port Arthur.

Thigpen said the telemedicine should be available by Thursday, adding officials are creating templates for the providers to use. When it becomes functional, it will be announced on the clinic’s Facebook page.

The other satellite clinic offices are open and taking patients, including the clinic on the West Side of Port Arthur, and the ones in Silsbee and Orange.