Providing COVID-19 Health Care for Vulnerable Women and Children

This month’s guest contributor is Community Advanced Practice Nurses, Inc.’s (CAPN). CAPN details the impact of COVID-19 and how the clinic is managing.

Community Advanced Practice Nurses, Inc. (CAPN) is a grantee of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation’s Promoting Women’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Project and a recipient of the COVID-19 Grantee Relief funds that supports the Women & Children’s Health & Wellness program. Through the support of our donors, we are able to serve over 3,000 women and children every year. To make our services easily accessible and available to the most vulnerable community members, CAPN is uniquely positioned within homeless shelters in Atlanta, where we are able to provide all services free of charge and accessible through walk-in appointments. With generous support from our volunteers, funders, and staff members, CAPN is able to provide quality health care in locations that exist at the confluence of highest need, greatest access, and lowest overhead.

The City of Atlanta has been a focal point for the US during the coronavirus pandemic.  As the number of cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, CAPN is working diligently to remain a safety net to uninsured patients by adopting new protocols. This includes providing primary care services, practicing social distancing and frequent hand washing in our clinic waiting area, and ensuring that our staff has access to personal protective equipment. In addition, we’ve been able to host volunteers, nursing students, and medical residents as we continue our commitment to educating the next generation of healthcare providers.

While many community-based providers in the surrounding areas closed their doors during the height of the pandemic, CAPN has remained open. We’ve initiated tele-medicine in addition to maintaining on-site care for our clients and reducing any potential exposure to COVID-19 to our staff. As a result, our clients, the vast majority of whom are uninsured, have been able to utilize our services safely and reduce non-emergent visits to the surrounding public hospitals. Since May, we’ve offered COVID-19 testing on-site at our main clinic in partnership with the Fulton County Board of Health.

The uncertainty regarding the upcoming school year is a topic of concern for our families. Our children’s vaccination program has experienced lower than expected numbers due to the closing of Atlanta Public Schools. To address this gap in service, CAPN staff initiated a ‘Back-to-School Clinic’ day to encourage parents to get their children up-to-date on immunizations in time for an anticipated start of the school year this fall.

In sum, our efforts to remain open and efficient during the last four months have been critical to the families we serve. As we continue to navigate COVID-19, we are encouraged by the resilience of our families and staff as well as our mission to provide free healthcare services to the most vulnerable living in Atlanta. 

Community Advanced Practice Nurses’ (CAPN) mission is to strengthen the lives of persons who are medically underserved and to help interrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness for these individuals. The main clinic is located in a women and children’s emergency shelter in Northeast Atlanta in the Old Fourth Ward with outreach sites at eight other shelters across metro Atlanta. CAPN runs programs that include primary health care, family planning, STD screening, health education, and mental health services. The clinic provides referrals for specialized care in order to continue to monitor chronic health problems.

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