Many businesses and nonprofits saw a decline in activity this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that wasn’t the case for Heart and Soul Clinic, a free health facility in Westfield for uninsured or underinsured patients.
“We’ve been pretty much business as usual since March,” Executive Director Lisa Kreag said. “We are still seeing patients. We still have volunteers. The difference is how people come into our facility. We are not having patients wait in our waiting room. They’re waiting in the car. They’re coming in when the appointment is (scheduled) and the room is ready for them. We are taking temperatures and doing all the screening procedures.”
Kreag said the clinic often sees patients who come in with a fever caused by something other than COVID-19.
“If it’s a fever and there’s other symptoms, let’s say it’s a toothache or an ear issue, whoever the provider is would make those decisions,” Kreag said.
The clinic doesn’t see patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, not does it offer COVID-19 testing. The clinic has seen roughly the same number of patients as it did in 2019.
“We are very close to the same numbers as last year,” Kreag said. “We have had over 1,200 patient visits.”
Heart and Soul Clinic has seen patients throughout the pandemic, but it did stop walk-in appointments in April, May, June and July. It also stopped offering dental services and discontinued its mobile clinic for two months. But all services are now offered again.
“I feel like we are really in a good place as far as the number of people,” Kreag said. “If we hadn’t have had the pandemic, we would be well above what we served last year.”
Typically, patient numbers increase each year.
Despite the pandemic, Heart and Soul Clinic began offering its mobile clinic in Fishers. It also began offering mental health services and a women’s health clinic.
Prior to the pandemic, Heart and Soul planned to take its mobile clinic to Fishers. The mobile clinic already made monthly stops at Grace Care Center on 146th Street and Carmel United Methodist Church. Eight percent of Heart and Soul Clinic’s patients were from Fishers. Kreag suspected there were more uninsured people in Fishers who lacked transportation to get to the clinic in Westfield. So, the mobile clinic visited the Delaware Township Trustee Building in Fishers during a three-month trial in September, October and November.
“And it was fabulous,” Kreag said of the turnout. “We are planning on returning in March 2021.”
The mobile clinic offers general medical services for scheduled appointments.
Providing mental health services also was planned before the pandemic.
“It just served well during this time,” Kreag said.
The mental health team is staffed by seven licensed mental health providers who volunteer at the clinic. They see patients face-to-face, via phone or through telehealth services.
“These are all patients who have been referred through the clinic already. They are clinic patients,” Kreag said. “Typically, (health care providers) are looking at issues such as anxiety or depression or grief or relationship issues, and we will see patients for six free sessions. It’s brief, solution-focused counseling sessions.”
A limited mental health program began in May and began fully operating in September. Kreag said the clinic’s most pressing need is for a Spanish-speaking counselor.
For more, visit heartandsoulclinic.org.
Heart and Soul Clinic also began offering a women’s clinic, operated by Dr. Denise Thompson, an OBGYN.
“Denise Thompson wanted to volunteer, and she is the primary provider for the women’s health clinic,” Executive Director Lisa Kreag said.
The women’s health clinic offers services such as pelvic exams, pap smears and other procedures. It doesn’t offer prenatal services.
“We have a number of women in that 30- to 50-year-old range and need preventative care,” Kreag said. “So, they haven’t had an exam in years, except when they were having babies, so this is a good opportunity for them to make sure they’re staying healthy.”