VVRMC’s Coronavirus Monitoring Team
From the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March, before Val Verde County had any positive cases, Val Verde Regional Medical Center (VVRMC) formed a team to track and care for patients who had been tested for coronavirus. The goal was to make sure that patients who had symptoms of coronavirus were being followed after they had been tested and that their symptoms were treated via telemedicine from their home so that they did not need to come in to the ER or the walk-in clinic when they needed to speak to a provider.
Initially, the team consisted of one provider, Physician Assistant Roxanna Benton. Nurse Practitioner Carrie Kern then joined the team, as well as Physician Assistant Megan Smith. Each of these providers were originally in another area of healthcare within our system, but stepped up to fill this role so that our coronavirus outpatients could be provided with the best possible care. As the cases began to rise in number and severity, the make-up and role of the team adapted to the changing nature of this pandemic. Now, the team consists of Roxanna Benton, PA-C, Carrie Kern, NP, Ashley Patrick, NP, Sofia Hernandez, RN, and Erika Mendoza, LVN. Together, they track all of the patients who have tested positive for coronavirus within the VVRMC system.
When a positive test for coronavirus is received by the team, they call the patient to notify him or her of the results and take a complete patient history that includes their personal medical history, as well as factors relevant to coronavirus, such as where they may have been exposed and any affected family members at home. Then they e-prescribe medications when needed to make sure that a patient is as comfortable and safe at home as possible. When it is apparent that a patient has more severe symptoms, the team calls them regularly to evaluate their condition, treat via phone when possible, and refer to the ER when needed. The goal is to make sure that someone is monitoring and caring for our patients who are at-home with this virus.
When the patient has finished his or her quarantine, the team then calls the patient again, verifies that he or she meets the CDC and local guidelines for release back into the community, and then coordinates their release with the local health authority.
The Coronavirus Monitoring Team has other roles as well, including collaborating with Janice Herrera, Infection Control Nurse, who has been working non-stop since the beginning with state and local officials to track our patients and keep our hospital as safe as possible from the spread of coronavirus, and Maricela Calvetti, who has shown incredible dedication and poise in handling the difficult laboratory requirements of coronavirus testing. The team also works with the local health authority, the Emergency Operations Center personnel for the county as well as the hospital, and the medical team at Laughlin Air Force Base to coordinate our response. The team keeps track of the statistics on patients who are positive so that the many other doctors, nurses and staff within the hospital and county who are working desperately hard to help our patients, can make informed and up-to-date decisions about our response to this pandemic.
All of this patient care and telemedicine by the Coronavirus Monitoring Team is done without charging our patients. It is a service that VVRMC is proud to be providing to our community from the beginning, in an effort to help us all respond to this virus together in the best way possible. At VVRMC, our staff is our community. We care deeply about keeping all of us safe. These staff members mentioned here are just a small slice of our response to this virus. We are working around the clock to do everything we can to care for you, our community here Val Verde County. As we do this, we understand your frustrations and your fears. They are ours as well. Thank you for working with us as we work to take care of you. Please do what you can to help us as well. Please wear your masks, keep social distance and wash your hands. We are all in this together.