RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Social distancing has forced a clinic serving lower-income residents in Southeast Raleigh and throughout Wake County to switch to telehealth amid COVID-19.
"For us to implement this it's a really big deal," said Pete Tannenbaum, executive director of Alliance Medical Ministry. "We're a non-profit. We're small. There are a lot of for-profit clinics that don't have telehealth yet."
Three to four months ago, Alliance decided to shift a lot of its practice to telemedicine, a practice of caring for patients remotely. Patients would receive a text message on their phone and click on a link where they can have a consultation with their medical professional.
Alliance is the primary home for 2,100 working, uninsured people in Wake County. 60 percent of its client base is Hispanic.
"A lot of these folks have experienced some kind of trauma in their life," Tannenbaum said. "They have a number of social issues in their life whether it's transportation issues, interpersonal violence, food insecurities."
According to the non-profit, 73 percent of their patients report that they go to the emergency room less after seeing doctors and staff at Alliance-- thus the reason they felt it was so important to keep their doors open during the coronavirus crisis.
"It has been strange," said Josh McConaghay, a nurse practitioner. "There are definitely some ways where it's felt very limiting but our patients are uninsured and a very vulnerable population."
Alliance put the operation into place the telemedicine platform two weeks ago and they are fully operational at 100 percent. Patients can still stop by the facility to pick up prescriptions without getting out of their car.