Medical offices across Tompkins County are proactively taking steps to manage their patients while protecting clinical staff. For offices that can afford it, this means a move to telemedicine, while others have been forced to close.
The Ithaca Free Clinic and the Weill Cornell Community Clinic, essential safety nets for uninsured patients in Ithaca and New York City, respectively, are the latter.
Due to the growing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County, the Ithaca Free Clinic issued a statement on March 30 saying it was forced to temporarily halt its services “in the face of the difficult challenge of protecting the health and welfare of our volunteers in a walk-in clinic environment.”
While all services will be suspended, employees will continue to update care plans for the clinic’s uninsured chronic care patients, processing prescription and herbal refills as needed and auditing and updating patient files.
“Temporarily suspending services vital to those we serve has been the single most difficult decision this organization has had to make in the 14 years the Clinic has been in operation,” said Norbert McCloskey, executive director of the Ithaca Free Clinic.
The clinic is still responding to questions from callers and its social media sites are constantly updated with the most recent information to connect Ithacans to available resources.
The Weill Cornell Community Clinic is a student-run clinic overseen by Weill Cornell physicians located in New York City, serving dozens of low-income and uninsured patients in the surrounding area every week and providing family medicine care as well as nutrition counseling and food donations.
The community clinic is closed until the end of April “and likely longer,” according to Mercy Ude grad, a clinic volunteer.
As the clinic is entirely volunteer-run in a donated space, the community clinic doesn’t need to worry about overhead lost during this pandemic. The clinic asks patients to monitor the website and email communications about further updates about the clinic opening.
Some patients are uncertain about the future, but grateful for the continued work of the Ithaca Free Clinic.
“I will miss going to my chronic care treatments,” said Bruce Thompson, a clinic patient, “For now, I’m not sure how I’ll manage but I’m grateful that the clinic is trying to be there for me as much as they can.”