What are we proud of? Let us tell you!
Although we have been updating our clinical practices quite frequently, we haven't really shared much about the behind the scenes work that our staff is doing to ensure safety for all. We asked our Clinic Services Director Helena to share her thoughts on how things have been going in our clinics during COVID-19.
I have never been more proud of our team at Options for Sexual Health than during the past few months.
We have always been clear that sexual health services are essential services and that our team of staff are passionate, dedicated, and competent. During this time of drastic changes and new barriers to access to care, these facts are even more evident. Every person on our team rose to the occasion to provide the kind of care we are so passionate about.
In a matter of days after this new reality dawned on us and several of our clinics faced closure, a full team of our Options physicians took on offering sexual health services via Telehealth. Telehealth was a project we had spent *years* dreaming of and had no funding for, and this was still true in this moment of urgency. This meant that each of our physicians had to quickly learn several new technology platforms, on the fly, while the Provincial Office Reception team quickly created a secure system for getting prescriptions and lab requisitions where they needed to go. Each and every one of them took it on with grace, compassion, and dedication and we are now able to provide our non-judgemental expert care to clients in communities that do not even have an Options Clinic.
Meanwhile, our in-clinic teams were working hard and fast at adapting to the new guidelines for limiting risk of exposure to themselves and our clients. All this while making sure that people could still access their birth control and get testing and treatment for STIs. In some cases, this meant innovative ways of providing birth control shots, sometimes even providing injections to clients in their cars(!). In other cases, our staff had to set up the clinic in a new location because our usual space had turned into a COVID testing site overnight.
Our Sex Sense service remained open without interruption, and every single day we had clients express their gratitude and relief that there was a real life person available at the other end of the line available to answer their questions. It has been more challenging than ever for both our clients and staff to stay on top of this changing landscape of what services are available where, and having access to this information through Sex Sense has been a huge relief for many.
In the background, our Clinic Supplies Coordinator Lynn and our Executive Director Michelle worked tirelessly to secure Personal Protective Equipment and cleaning supplies for our staff and clinics. As a contracted agency under a health authority that had never previously needed to order masks, we were left out the list of organisations that were considered ‘essential recipients’. Luckily, we have relentless and skilled relationship builders on our team, and we were able to secure donations from our partners to keep our staff safe and our clinics open.
I don’t take it lightly that our team accomplished all of this while grappling with many of the same things as our clients, including fears about their personal health and safety and the health and safety of their loved ones and adapting to challenges of working from home. In addition to that, almost all of our staff work elsewhere in healthcare where they were dealing with more changes, more demands, and increased risks.
We have always known that people who work and volunteer at Options are passionate about our mission, and I feel confident that our clients and communities will continue to be taken care of in their very capable hands.
With appreciation and gratitude,
Helena Palmqvist De Felice
Clinic Services Director