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Wheeling Health Right Providing Limited Services to Patients

WHEELING – Wheeling Health Right continues to treat its patients who have influenza or other acute illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like all other medical facilities, the clinic is taking extra precautions to protect clients and staff from possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

“Our leadership and our staff are doing a fabulous job rolling with the punches. It might change the same day with a new policy or protocol,” said Wendy Tronka, director of marketing.

Wheeling Health Right personnel are treating patients who have flu-like symptoms, sinus infections and sprains.

The services, though, are being offered “only for our current patients,” Tronka noted.

“We’re not an emergency room,” Tronka said.

To limit exposure and potential infection from COVID-19, she added, “We have canceled and will not schedule any wellness visits until further notice.”

As another restriction, Tronka said, “In the dental clinic, we’re seeing patients only for extractions. Routine and preventive appointments are on hold for right now.

“It’s tough with the dental patients. If they have an abscess, that (tooth) has to come out,” she said. “We leave it up to that dentist to take it out. That’s an acute situation we have to deal with on a case-by-case basis.”

Extra cleaning of equipment and rooms within the clinic’s building on 29th Street is being done.

At this time, a limited number of the clinic’s 10 examination rooms are being used.

“All of our providers and medical assistants are wearing gloves, gowns and N95 masks,” she said.

Personnel in the dental clinic also are wearing protective eyewear. Additional screening of patients is being done upon arrival at the facility.

“The big thing, when folks come in, we have a triage nurse in personal protective equipment, gown and gloves, right at the front door. They ask a series of questions to determine the risk of having been exposed possibly to COVID-19 and they take their temperature,” Tronka said. “When they clear the screening, they can come in if they have an appointment or to pick up a prescription.”

For patients who are symptomatic, she said, “We are doing influenza A, influenza B and strep tests. If those tests are positive, we treat appropriately, with Tamiflu or antibiotics.”

If patients test negative for influenza or strep throat, but are still symptomatic, they will be referred to Wheeling Hospital’s mobile testing site to be tested for coronavirus. The off-site tests are being performed in a large tent in the parking lot at Wheeling Park.

To date, they haven’t seen any patients with symptoms of COVID-19, she said.

Currently, medical and dental students are not visiting Wheeling Health Right because their classes are not in session as a result of academic closures.

Besides making changes to the clinic’s operations, Wheeling Health Right has canceled this year’s Chefs’ Auction because of social distancing restrictions that are now in place.

The loss of the organization’s largest annual fundraiser is expected to cause a significant impact for the health care provider.

“We make upwards of $80,000 every year at the Chefs’ Auction. Every penny goes right to patient care,” Tronka said.

In addition to the financial hit from canceling the event, she said, “We lose goodwill; we lose PR and all of that buzz. That’s something you can’t put a number on.

“We hope everybody comes out as strong and in double force next year,” she added.

Health Right leaders also hope contributors to its Congregations for Caring initiative will consider increasing their donations to help the agency recoup the shortfall from the cancellation of the Chefs’ Auction.

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