Since May 1, the Texas Medical Association and county medical societies have helped physician practices throughout the state receive personal protective equipment (PPE) they’ve desperately needed to safely care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The TMA PPE Portal allows you to tell TMA how much PPE you currently have on hand, and how much you use each day in the current COVID-19 emergency.
The portal is not a place to order PPE. Instead, it sends data to the state’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) partners and Regional Advisory Councils (RACs), which are responsible for distributing PPE the state purchases from the worldwide supply chain. They ship PPE allocated for physicians within their regions to local county medical societies, who then distribute it to individual physician practices.
Soon after the portal was opened, practices across the state began reporting to TMA they’ve received PPE, including masks, gowns, and gloves.
Below are some of their stores.
Martha Arandia, Luis F. Arandia-Antelo, MD; Lubbock
“I literally cried.”
That’s how Martha Arandia reacted when a shipment of donated surgical masks and hand sanitizer arrived May 5 at her husband’s pediatric clinic in Lubbock.
Mrs. Arandia, the practice office manager for 20 years, had a liver transplant 18 months ago and has not been able to go to the clinic since February despite broad cleanliness and safety measures, including her husband changing clothes in the garage after work each day.
“I miss going to the office, and [I] can now finally go once a week” on the weekends when the office is thoroughly sanitized and patients are not present, Mrs. Arandia said. “Having face masks has helped protect my health so I can work.”
Managing the back office means Ms. Arandia is acutely aware of the impact COVID-19 has had on patients and staff.
The practice saw an almost immediate 90% drop in patient volume. Vaccinations and well-child visits, which are required for children to attend day care and summer camps, and pre-participation sports physicals are bringing patients back to the clinic, she says.
“Our patients are in close contact with our staff, so without the masks we could not see any of them,” Mrs. Arandia said. “Without the masks I could not do what I love, which is work with my husband.”
Kristin Daniel, Crane Center; Austin
After extensive therapeutic and emotional processing, patients from all over the world travel to the Crane Center in Austin for life-altering transgender surgeries.
That’s why many were in shock and distress when told their procedures had been put on hold. The practice could no longer secure PPE from suppliers.
Fortunately, TMA and the Travis County Medical Society were able to arrange a donation of much-needed supplies to the clinic May 18, allowing staff to begin contacting patients and rescheduling procedures.
Kristin Daniel, director of clinical operations, said patients were relieved and grateful to know their journey of transformation could continue.
To ensure there is no chance of having the virus, the clinic’s patients self-isolate for two weeks before traveling to Austin, self-quarantine another two weeks in Austin before the procedure, and are screened upon arrival at the clinic, Ms. Daniel said.
“Our patients are the most willing and diligent about following personal health and safety protocols, especially while COVID-19 is present,” she said. “To have to tell our patients to wait is dismaying for all of us.”
Arnulfo Carrasco, MD; Carrasco Pain Institute, San Antonio
Arnulfo Carrasco, MD, an anesthesiologist from San Antonio, assumes every patient is positive and by protecting himself, he’s protecting his patients and staff. That philosophy was recently put to quite a test.
In early April, a staff member tested positive for the virus, so Dr. Carrasco closed and disinfected his practice, seeking PPE from his medical society while his staff member self-quarantined.
In early May, when the desperately needed PPE finally arrived, Dr. Carrasco was able to reopen, establishing an alternating schedule of telemedicine days and in-person visit days. Five days after reopening, an asymptomatic patient, whose wife was hospitalized for a mild illness, visited Dr. Carrasco’s clinic.
Immediately after leaving the clinic, the patient received word that his wife had COVID-19. All clinic staff were immediately tested at a drive-through site and self-quarantined for five days. Thankfully results came back negative for all.
Dr. Carrasco credits the efforts of the Bexar County Medical Society and TMA, saying that if it weren’t for the shields, gowns, N95 masks, and gloves they delivered on May 1, 10 staff members and their families would have been at risk for catching the virus, too.
Find more about the TMA’s PPE Portal at PPE Distribution FAQ.
As always, check the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center regularly for up-to-date news and the latest TMA materials for your practice.