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Bringing Mobile COVID-19 Testing to Native Populations

Presbyterian Healthcare Services uses Epic in a mobile clinic to reach patients in the pueblos of New Mexico

Native American reservations have seen significant COVID-19 infection rates. Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico used a mobile clinic equipped with Epic to provide COVID-19 testing to more than 8,000 residents of pueblos—southwestern Native American settlements—throughout the state from March through early June. The mobile clinic today travels as far as 150 miles from the Presbyterian campus in Albuquerque.

“New Mexico is largely a rural state, and people who live in the pueblos might be many miles away from their providers,” said Mechem Frashier, director of Presbyterian Medical Center’s urgent care clinics. “When COVID-19 hit, we wanted to help those residents access convenient testing.”

PHS created a mobile testing unit in a few days using a bus and testing supplies they already had on hand. In addition to tablets and clinical supplies, the clinic bus is outfitted with its own generator and WiFi. Portable air conditioning keeps staff and patients safe in the desert heat.

Clinicians and staff arrive at the pueblo and set up a walk-through clinic with a check-in area and two exam rooms. As patients move through designated areas to register for the visit, get vitals taken, and receive a COVID-19 test, clinicians document the care in Epic using tablets. When test results come back, each patient receives a phone call from a clinician to discuss next steps. Patients can also review this information in MyChart. The clinic has tested as many as 440 patients in a single day.

“Staff see what a big impact it makes to bring care to very rural areas, especially during a pandemic,” Frashier said. “We plan to do even more with this unit going forward—especially leading up to flu season—so patients don’t have to travel a long way to get care.”

Read more from the Albuquerque Journal.