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Chautauqua Center starts screening for virus as it takes precautions

OBSERVER Photo By Mary Heyl. The Chautauqua Center has two officess on Central Avenue. Here at 314 Central Ave., dental and behavioral health, including substance abuse, services are provided, and across the street at 319 Central Ave., primary care services are provided.

The Chautauqua Center has begun screening residents for the coronavirus, according to a news release issued this morning.

Officials at the Center said the swabs are collected on site and sent to a lab where results take four to six days to process. Screening is limited to The Chautauqua Center patients or people that have been referred by their primary care provider including people who are not patients of the Chautauqua Center. If a person has symptoms but does not have a primary care provider, they can speak with medical staff at the Center by calling 716-294-3985. The Chautauqua Center urges anyone who has symptoms to stay home, do not go to the clinic, and contact them by phone to speak with a member of their medical team.

“We have set up the screening to take place away from the clinic areas, because we are continuing to provide our regular services as much as possible. We are assessing people over the phone if they have symptoms, and initiating telehealth for routine appointments to limit the need for people to leave their homes,” said Michael Pease, chief executive officer of the Center. “Walk-ins are checked for symptoms before entering the building because the safety of our patients, employees, and the community is our top priority. Keeping our patients and employees safe from exposure remains our central focus.”

Doctors, nurses and staff at the center also have quickly implemented COVID-19 protocols as the health center pivots to meet the new needs of the community. Pease and his leadership team have been in daily talks with county and other local, state and federal health agencies to roll out the Center’s response to the virus. Last week Pease spoke with elected officials including U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, state Sen. George Borrello, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, County Executive PJ Wendel and Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas to advocate for medical supplies and other support.

Morale is high among the staff who are using email to send each other kudos and share stories of community support. Last Thursday, a patient arrived with his personal supply of N-95 masks to donate to the Center. “Our patients are outstanding – I can’t help but fight back tears when I hear generosity like this. The community wants us to know that they are all supporting us. Keep up the great work everyone,” said Dr.Erin Pender, dentist at the Jamestown clinic.

The organization’s 142 employees are part of the state’s essential workforce and are still reporting to work. Many are using this opportunity to renew their commitment to helping the public and are taking pride in the special role they play in this national emergency.

Community Health Centers like the Chautauqua Center are key to stopping our hospital system from becoming overwhelmed during public health emergencies. They have a direct connection to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and collaborate with local and state public health authorities, hospitals, and relief organizations. Since opening in 2013, the Chautauqua Center has created an affordable health care option for more than 10,000 patients annually. They have reduced barriers such as cost, lack of insurance, distance, and language for their patients and provide substantial benefits to the local health care system.

The Chautauqua Center has locations in Dunkirk and Jamestown and is open Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 5pm. For more information, visit tcchealth.org or call (716) 484-4334.

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