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2 Years Later: Reflections on COVID-19 in North Little Rock

Written by Emily Chalco, PrimeCARE NLR
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2 YEARS! It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since Covid-19 really began to affect our clinics. I started the pandemic working on the management team in our Searcy clinic. I had just come back from a trip to Peru and we were already preparing for what might happen. I had no idea it would bring all that has happened in the last 2 years.

I remember hoping that it would not be too bad for us while preparing my mind for a lot of unknown. As it started to spread in the United States our clinics started seeing a lot less patients. Everyone was locking down and staying home. We had so many patients skip their routine appointments. We had amazing team members working hard to get telehealth options up and running as quickly as possible. 

We were concerned for the safety and health of our team members and patients. Our teams were concerned for our patients and each other.  No one had ever experienced anything like this, so we did the best we could to weather it. 

We had to come up with new check-in processes. We were making changes multiple times a day. It was hard on our teams to keep up with all the differences but they rallied and were outstanding! 

Covid in Central Arkansas

Once Covid started spreading closer to our areas we started getting flooded with patients in all of our clinics. It was overwhelming. We were seeing hundreds of patients a day with minimal supplies and minimal information about what we were even dealing with. We had leadership members and medical staff members doing as much research as they could to help us take care of our teams and patients. 

We were seeing patients in their cars in the parking lots. Our exam rooms were full all the time. We had team members locating and purchasing medical supplies from wherever we could find them. It was wild!

We were working very long and very full days. Our patients wait times were so long. Most of them were understanding and kind…some of them weren’t. 

It stayed like that for quite a while. There were days we had to stop covid tests because we had run out. We were coming up with as many ways as we could to disinfect our protective equipment. We were adjusting the daily flow based on how many people were able to work each day. We had teams inside and outside. We had temporary exam rooms added at all of our clinics. We were finding any space we could to convert into patient care areas.

Leading North Little Rock

In the middle of the pandemic, I transferred to be the manager at our North Little Rock clinic. It’s been wonderful working here with this team. 

When I got here, we were looking for nurses to join our team. We went a long time not being able to find any. There have been nursing changes and shortages all over. We are no exception. 

Our clinic went a long time with only 1 nurse. We are open 7 days a week, 12 hours a day for 5 of those days. She did an incredible job keeping up with everything. We ended up having to close on the weekends for an extended period of time. We had a lot of days where we didn’t even have a nurse here. The rest of our team really picked up the slack and did the best they could! I’m so proud of how they all handled it!

We recently found a couple more amazing nurses to join the team. We opened back up on weekends a few weeks ago and are feeling some of the pressure lifted. 

Living in a New Normal

I feel like medical care has changed a lot. We have patients who waited so long to be seen for something that started out so small because they were scared to get covid. Even now, patients are sicker than they’ve ever been. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on people’s physical and mental health. It makes caring for our patients more difficult. Our team shows up and works hard to care for them though! 

We still have major rises in Covid cases every once in a while, and the team has become even more amazing at adjusting during those peaks. We learn something new through each burst of cases and figure out how to do it better.

I am so proud to be apart of the team in North Little Rock. We have rough days, but we always laugh and work together through it. We know the world is ready to be done with the pandemic…so are we! We’ll be here for our patients through it. We’ll keep adjusting to make everyone’s experience as easy and comfortable as possible. 

I’m thankful for Primecare as a whole and how everyone comes together and contributes their best each day. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else! 

Emily Chalco,

Clinic Manager PrimeCARE North Little Rock

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