Louise Red Corn
Congresswoman Jodie Revard offered to find the funding to reopen the Nation’s Domestic Violence Shelter to the tune of $200,000. CODY HAMMER/Osage News
The WahZhaZhe Health Clinic is painfully aware that patients are often unable to get through by phone and is working hard to solve the problem, clinic manager Kirk Shaw told the Health Authority Board on Thursday.
Shaw said that the main clinic number received 1,495 calls between Jan. 17 and 19 – an average of 500 calls per day. Hundreds more calls came through the Covid hotline.
Given the technological limitations of the phone system, Shaw said that he couldn’t break down how many of those calls went unanswered, a complaint that many have lodged lately.
“We’re aware of it and we want it fixed,” said Cindra Shangreau, the chair of the health board. “We’re not turning a blind eye to it.”
Shaw said that the current phone system rolls over to nine different workstations at the clinic, ringing a few times at each phone and moving on when no one answers.
Thanks to short staffing, which is exacerbated by Covid-19 surging among clinic staff and their family members, coupled with inadequate phone circuits, calls have been missed.
“Five out of six employees are out with Covid, either their kids or themselves,” Shangreau said. “Covid has been decimating our clinic.”
The clinic is working with a medical telephone consulting company called AudioCARE Systems to revamp the phone system, which would add the ability to have prompts such as most medical facilities have, such as “Press 1 to make an appointment,” and so forth.
Shaw said he has six employees in patient registration answering phones and three more in medical records to whom the calls roll over. He said he is hopeful that by using prompts the phone traffic will be lighter, noting that right now the staff is just “trying to keep their heads above water.”
He said he would like to be able to make robocalls as well, so patients could receive automated calls regarding appointment reminders, unexpected closures, and more.
Shaw also said that he aims to hire three more people to man the phones. “We’re going to find room for them,” he vowed. “They can have my office if they need to.”
A new provider and a plan to reopen the domestic violence shelter
In other business, the board approved the hire of a nurse practitioner at the clinic. They did not name the provider.
They also directed Stacy Lookout, the director of the Osage Nation Counseling Center and other social services, to meet with Controller Tyler McIntosh to come up with a budget to reopen the Domestic Violence Shelter, which closed about 10 months ago.
Lookout estimated it would cost about $200,000 to staff and reopen the five-bedroom shelter with needed supplies. The shelter opened in 2017 and closed last year because grants that funded the shelter were in “chaos,” as Lookout told Congress members in September.
Congresswoman Jodie Revard has offered to help find money to reopen the shelter. She told the board on Thursday that they should get a budget proposal approved at the board’s February meeting so Congress would be able to act on it if called into a special session in February or March.
Original Publish Date: 2022-01-20 00:00:00