Indianola doctors, staff continue to work outdoors during pandemic


This week's sunny weather provided an excellent opportunity for the patient-care staff at Indianola Family Medical Clinic to soak up some natural vitamin D while caring for their patients.

As a means of providing a safe environment for its routine outpatients' care, the clinic's parking lot has been transformed into an outdoor triage and treatment arena and it is alive with activity. Nurses, technicians and doctors scurry about tending to their patients who remain in their vehicles the entire time unless a condition warrants entry into the facility.

When patients first arrive at the clinic, medical personnel check their temperature and ask them COVID-19-related questions to ascertain which area of the complex they should be directed and assign their vehicle a number.

Patients who are there for a routine visits are directed to one sector of the parking lot and those with COVID-19 related symptoms are directed to another area where a doctor comes out to their vehicle and assesses their condition.

Some workers collected payment, either over the phone or in person at the windows of the continual stream of automobiles entering and exiting the Delta Surgical Clinic's east side parking lot.

Nurses take vitals, phlebotomists draw blood and doctors visit each parked patron to consult and administer care, all while the patients remain content within the confines of their automobiles.

Dr. Katie Patterson acknowledged that this is a new experience for everyone and it has become necessary to help slow the spread of COVID-19. She said some of her patients have expressed a desire to continue the process even after the COVID-19 emergency has subsided.

She noted how the patients seem to really be embracing the new procedures and how it gives them an opportunity to listen to music or watch videos on their phones or just enjoy the beautiful weather while they wait to see the doctors.

Patterson also talked about the challenge the staff faces trying to dress properly for the varied changes in the Delta weather, some days they experience cool temperatures, heat and humidity plus warm spring showers all in a matter of hours.

Patterson said that she is usually pretty worn out by the end of the day, but on a positive, the experience is giving her an opportunity to increase the number of steps she makes for her own health each day. 

Another benefit of the new process is that it gives the patients an opportunity to see what actually goes on behind the scene in the clinic, Patterson said.

Normally the patients are closed off behind treatment room doors and never see the beehive of activity that takes place as the medical staff provide the necessary services to each patients.

“My son said he thought all I do was sit at the computer and type all day,” Patterson said.

With the parking lot serving as an outdoor clinic, patients are exposed to a seemingly never-ending flow of workers carrying out their various duties and hopefully better appreciate the efforts of those dedicated essential service providers.


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