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COVID-19 Response Outpatient Clinic Provided Safe, Compassionate Care

COVID-19 clinic patient and doctor

Note: as Johns Hopkins Medicine begins to resume to normal operations with enhanced patient protection, this clinic has now closed.

On a recent spring morning, Maria Ramirez* walked into a doctor’s office for a routine obstetric appointment with Carla Bossano, M.D. Ramirez’s pregnancy was progressing well, and her visit with Dr. Bossano was much like their previous appointments. The main difference was Dr. Bossano’s outfit: a full gown, face mask and shield. Ms. Ramirez had tested positive for COVID-19, and Dr. Bossano’s personal protective equipment was keeping her safe from infection.

Cases like Ramirez’s are more and more common. People who have already been infected with COVID-19 still need care for other health conditions and injuries, but treating patients who are COVID-19-positive requires specific knowledge, training and facilities some primary care providers or urgent care centers may not have. Until a vaccine for COVID-19 can be developed and distributed, the new Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Response Outpatient Clinic will help patients with COVID-19 while minimizing exposure risk for others.

The clinic, located in the John R. Burton Pavilion at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, has been specifically designed to see patients with COVID-19 for scheduled urgent care visits, featuring negative-pressure exam rooms with HEPA filters, capacity for limited procedures like blood draws and X-rays and a private entrance with dedicated free parking. The office also includes space for providers and staff to put on and take off the personal protective equipment (PPE) that keeps them safe, and staff have also received extra training to accommodate the specific needs of patients with COVID-19. Specialists from other departments will come to the clinic to avoid having patients who are COVID-19-positive walk through other hospital hallways and buildings. “We have all undergone extensive training and these very high standards have become second nature to us,” explains acting nurse manager Holly McDaniel, R.N., M.S.N. These safeguards will keep clinic patients from having to choose between their own health and the risk of infecting other non-COVID-19-positive patients and staff at Johns Hopkins Bayview. “We hope to provide all our patients with a sense of safety and security every time they walk onto this campus,” says McDaniel.

The clinic will also be a boon for researchers studying SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus itself is not-well-understood, and researching both SARs-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is essential to stop the current outbreak and prevent or reduce the severity of future pandemics. The clinic will provide a unique opportunity for scientists on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus, who now have a safe place to meet with patients involved in clinical trials or studies, explains Stephen D. Sisson, M.D., Vice President of Clinical Operations at the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians. Ultimately, he hopes a few providers from each department at Johns Hopkins Bayview will gain enough experience to make COVID-19 treatment its own unofficial subspecialty, and that they can share their expertise with colleagues and other providers. “Johns Hopkins has taken a leadership role in the world,” says Dr. Sisson, and has a long history of scientific and medical leadership, including the response to the 1918 influenza pandemic. Now, facing down COVID-19, “Everybody here is leaping at the chance to contribute,” says Dr. Sisson.

* We are using a pseudonym at the patient’s request.

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