NEWS | March 19, 2020

UC Davis Health Ambulatory Care reaching out to protect patients amid COVID-19


UC Davis Health ambulatory clinics have adapted quickly to continue caring for and protecting patients during the COVID-19 pandemic by swiftly expanding their ability to connect with patients in their homes via video visits.

The clinics rapidly created a centralized video visit team to care for patients with flu like symptoms safely and to continue primary and specialty care for at-risk patients without them having to leave home. The team is conducting more than 100 video visits a day to evaluate patients with flu-like symptoms.

In addition, all primary care clinics now have dedicated physicians doing video visits daily, while specialty clinics are converting care for at-risk patients, when appropriate, to video visits or virtual check-ins on phones. The result has been impressive, with more than 20% of the daily ambulatory patient visits done via telemedicine most days. They expect that percentage to grow.

The clinic teams are also partnering with the emergency department to perform video evaluations for low-acuity patients presenting at the ED with flu like symptoms, and they will be opening weekend and holiday coverage for video visits for flu-like symptoms.

“Our patients count on us to be available when they need us,” said Mike Condrin, executive director of ambulatory care clinics. “We are doing that while still keeping them safe and working to slow the COVID-19 infection rate.”

Here more of the ways the ambulatory teams are continuing to care for and protect patients:

  • All staff are fully trained in appropriate use of personal protective equipment for infection prevention as part of their normal duties year round. The staff has always taken the required standard precautions for any infectious disease, including influenza and tuberculosis, prior to COVID-19.
  • Postponing routine and elective clinic visits for at-risk patients in consultation with those patients.
  • Ensuring social distancing in waiting rooms and cancelling patients in areas where waiting rooms are usually full.
  • Eliminated cash in all clinics.
  • Developed surge plans to further reduce clinic volume, if needed.
  • Instituted telecommuting for many ambulatory operations, human resources and financial analysts.
  • Providing emergency leaves as part of a UC-wide initiative for employees with childcare needs or flu-like symptoms.
  • Limiting visitors to one essential caregiver each.

“We understand these are confusing and frightening times for our patients,” Condrin said. “That’s why everyone in all our clinics is doing all they can to comfort patients and reassure them that they will receive the world class care they have always gotten from UC Davis Health, whether in person at our clinics or virtually through a video visit.”

Condrin said the endeavor to make the transition to large-scale video visits was a textbook example of great people working together.

“Everyone involved was outstanding,” he said. “Project managers Tami Scott and Rupinder Colby led the effort. Sheri Barr and her team of triage nurses were incredible triaging patients and scheduling video visits. Mark Avdalovic gave us visionary leadership, and David Trabazo took charge as our video visit physician leader. I can’t thank them all enough.”