COVID-19 Testing: Providing an Essential service to Dallas’ Essential Worker Community
As COVID-19 caused lockdowns around the world, our team saw the opportunity to step into the space of COVID-19 testing, making sure the uninsured and underinsured community in DFW was not left without access to such crucial services. On April 27th we launched a centralized site at the Watermark Dallas campus.
Through this centralized site, we were able to identify multiple outbreaks in the essential worker community. Notably, on May 6th - just a week into operating the site, our team was able to serve the staff and residents at an area halfway house, helping to identify and mitigate an outbreak among essential workers living there.
Shortly thereafter, the clinic staff noticed through testing that a community of Burmese essential workers are experiencing an outbreak and are able to trace the event back to an area factory. The clinic staff worked with the factory nurse and County Health Services to educate the patients of their healthcare options and how to quarantine sick family members in the home. Our staff also reached out to indigenous pastors to the Burmese community and helped inform them on how to care for their congregation well.
Through the summer, the site functioned as a resource and access point for over a thousand individuals. During the COVID-19 surge in Dallas this summer, the site's busiest day had 85 cars coming through in a span of a few hours. We also noticed that our positivity rate (percent positives of COVID-19 tests) hovered around 30-40%, hitting just above 40% in the highest weeks. This was significant, as the DFW average during that time was closer to 10%. These numbers indicated our site was serving a specific need, helping the sick find access to testing, and mitigating exposure risks spreading through families and places of employment. As we dug into the numbers, we were able to find out that many of those that we were providing access for a niche community in need- essential workers that had jobs that did not give them access to health insurance. Many of these individuals were unable to shelter in place in the spring.
In late summer, the testing site was eventually closed. We always anticipated there would be a day where it made sense to incorporate testing services into our normal clinic processes. That day came in early September. Since then, testing has been available at both clinics, and periodically in high-need areas such as South Dallas through the pop-up clinic team.
"Over the past 6 months, Watermark South Dallas and the Watermark Community Development Corporation collaborated to operate a weekly food distribution on site at Watermark South Dallas. Each week, the two prayer requests most commonly shared are centered on jobs and health. From COVID testing to flu shots to urgent care, Watermark Health met many health needs and developed relational trust with our neighbors, too. This is only the beginning for our partnership!" Carson Smith, Watermark CDC Executive Director
Over the course of the year, our team has provide testing to over 2,000 patients from our clinics and watched as this service had a significant impact on our patient population, providing for many that had nowhere else to go for peace of mind, return to work clearance, or access to care.
As the year went on, it became clear that we were serving the essential worker community. Our patients reported working in healthcare, retail spaces, transportation and delivery, construction, grocery, and food services. Additionally,17% reported that their employment status had changed due to COVID-19.
Serving those who Serve Others
Offering COVID-19 testing has also allowed us to step in as partners in ministry face outbreaks or unknowns. Our clinics ability to offer testing has allowed numerous non-profits to find affordable and reliable services for their staff and those they serve.
City House is blessed by our partnership with Watermark Urgent Care in Plano. They have been serving our clients and building relationships with them as they provide services for a while now. Recently we had a COVID scare with possible exposure to a large group of staff and clients and we needed counsel on how to proceed. Our first call was to Watermark Urgent Care. They listened to the situation, asked questions, and helped us devise a practical plan quickly. In less than 24 hours from the initial call, a team from Watermark provided a house call to run COVID tests in one of our backyards. Not only did they come to us and provide the tests in a professional manner but they did so with kindness and love; calming the nerves and fears of our kids during the process. In these days and times you don’t hear of that level of care and we are grateful to have them in our community!" - Lisa, City House Plano (housing for homeless or abused youth)
Recently, we had a friend of Bonton Farms test positive for Covid-19. To ensure all of our interns and staff were safe and healthy, we reached out to our friends at Watermark Urgent Care to facilitate testing for a large group. The staff went above and beyond the call of Christ to serve us. I personally received a test from the compassionate and professional medical team, and they were amazing. We also were joined in prayer for everyone's good health, which was just a true gift on what was a challenging day for us. We could not have been more blessed to have the medical team help us through this process. The light of the Lord shines very brightly within the Watermark Urgent Care Clinic. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and look forward to working together in the future. God bless you! - Stephanie, Bonton Farms
When we weighed the decision back in April to enter into the COVID-19 testing space, we knew it would be a bumpy ride as the medical community innovated new technologies and processes to address this novel virus. But we also knew it was something we had to fight to say yes to, as it would be a blessing to many that often lack access to quality healthcare services. As we round out the year, and almost eight full months of providing this new service, we are grateful and humbled by the opportunity to provide reassurance, guidance, and clarity to so many.
If you'd like to help ensure we can continue to provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, invest with us.