The unexpected events of 2020 provided SWLA Center for Health Services knowledge to provide better patient care. “In order to do this, we first had to take care of our caretakers,” says Jessica Jolly, Chief Operating Officer of the Center. “Our frontline workers lost homes during the hurricanes, experienced COVID-19 firsthand, or lost friends or family due to the virus, and as healthcare leaders, we recognized the importance of making sure this group is cared for.”
Jolly says caring for the whole person and looking at a patient’s social determinants of health helps them to understand their clients’ concerns, identify the lacking resources, and meet those needs. “We approach healthcare in a holistic way. We have learned that the only way to truly make people well is to recognize all their experiences – whether they be trauma or challenges and try to address all the needs in order to care for the entire person. Care should be tailored; what works for one patient may not work for the next. We have also learned the importance of access to mental and behavioral health services.”
Moving forward, the team at SWLA Center for Health Services is focused on strengthening their infrastructure; not only those affected by the disaster, but throughout the entire organization. “We plan on modernizing our physical buildings to create an environment conducive to high-quality, team-based care. We also plan on leveraging technology to create more flexibility and opportunities for our patients to be seen. We are working on a remote patient monitoring program to allow patients to have their blood pressure, oxygen, glucose, and weight levels monitored and transmitted to our network portal which will reduce the need for travel and the potential for exposure in our at-risk patient population.
We will also further incorporate behavioral health into primary care. We want to eliminate the stigma surrounding behavioral health and ensure that patients can be quickly set up with therapists if they need services. We plan to conduct educational series and group therapies as another way to reach out to our patients in order to educate and ultimately meet the needs.
JayVon Muhammad, SWLA Center for Health Services CEO, organized grassroots relief efforts almost immediately once Hurricane Laura passed. They positioned themselves to be the Hurricane Relief Command Center at their Lake Charles site. They partnered with multiple organizations to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of resources for the community, and received truckloads of donated items from the city of Houston, T. D. Jakes Ministry, Kroger, CVS and countless churches to provide access to basic essentials. They used social media, television, and radio to get the information out that the health center was providing relief efforts.
“Probably one of the most memorable experiences for me was the community walk with the doctors,” Jolly says. “Our providers walked the neighborhood and knocked on doors to do welfare checks. Most people didn’t expect to see anyone out so soon, and it was a joy to do it, especially for our elderly population who couldn’t make it to the center for even important things like food and prescriptions. We will continue to find ways to be here for the community because that’s what we do. It has been an honor and a challenge, but will ultimately make the organization and community stronger as we move forward. The bottom line is ‘Our business is making people WELL, and we aim to do that daily!”