POMONA, Calif. – As congressional leaders craft the next massive economic stimulus package, funds from the first three are finally reaching some hospitals and health centers here in California.
One Pomona Health Center said they just received their first and second round of federal funding from the latest coronavirus relief bills. Despite that, they say they still have many worries.
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The ParkTree Community Health Center in Pomona serves about 13,000 patients a month, with the vast majority at or below the poverty line. CEO, David Kadar is working tirelessly to ensure his employees and patients stay safe.
"While our supplies here at ParkTree are low,” Kadar said, “we are fortunate that we still have adequate supplies and all personal protective equipment, whether it be gowns, gloves, masks, or protective eyewear.”
That’s for now though, because he said it’s in part because other organizations are able to help supply gear, like with the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles where Kadar picked up a shipment himself.
“We are able to receive a shipment of N95 masks, protective gowns and protective eyewear that we are incredibly thankful for,” Kadar said. “However that could change at any time as we find that with many of our vendors ordering this type of material are very scarce.”
Kadar is faced with new hardships amid the pandemic including furloughed staff and a shortage of coronavirus tests.
“At this health center, we have tested very few individuals following the criteria from the Department of Public Health due to the accessibility of tests," Kadar said. "Currently, tests are not greatly assessable; they’re in limited supplies, and we are all being asked to conserve them for the most critical cases. Especially those in the ICU and emergency rooms where testing would make a decision in terms of care.”
But this week, Kadar is seeing some relief. Representative Norma Torres announced how Kadar’s health center is receiving about $750,000 from the CARES Act and over $60,000 from the first, mid-March, coronavirus bill.
But even with that, Kadar fears it’s not enough, as the center is losing about $300,000 a month.
“I am incredibly grateful for that amount of funding,” Kadar said. “But during this COVID-19 time, because of the stay at home orders, because of directions made by organizations such as the American Dental Association for the Center for Disease Control, health centers have had to change the way that they are practicing. So, for example, our health center because of the American Dental Association guidance, we’ve had to stop oral routine dental visits and only focus on life-threatening emergencies; so if you look at our oral health department we are down about 99% of the visits.”
A rough time, but Kadar said he’s thankful for the federal financial aid, which will help implement new equipment for their transition into a new method of health care: telemedicine.
“We will be focusing on the telemedicine aspect as there is a large infrastructure for that,” he said. “Really I think the greatest part of this is, I’ve seen our team here stay strong; I’ve seen our team care for each other, and in the end, while it may be a bumpy road, I know we will come our much stronger at the end.”
Kadar hopes in the next stimulus package, there will be long-term funding to help purchase protective equipment and pay for any changes in technology systems.
Kadar also hopes future funding will make testing more accessible. He said, right now, they’re only able to test someone who suffers from all three symptoms: shortness of breath, a fever, and a cough.
But he said he’s glad there are many other resources they can point patients to, including the numerous drive through testing sites that are popping up across Southern California. It’s important to note, those sites are appointment-only.