When thoughts of the COVID-19 occur, sometimes the attention immediately goes to the front lines at the hospitals.  Although patients may report straight to hospitals after being instructed to, clinics and their health care workers could be the first line of defense for many.


Elsberry native, Lesa Whiteside-Cohea models some of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that employees at Mercy Lincoln Clinics are required to wear.

Practice Manager for six of the Mercy Lincoln Primary Care and Specialty Clinics, as well as the newly organized Dedicated Care Clinic is Elsberry’s own native, Lesa Whiteside-Cohea.  Not only has the care been heightened for possible COVID patients, but also precautions for all patients and workers is part of her responsibility.

In light of the pandemic, precautions are being taken in all areas of the medical field.  Because of this, Cohea has her hands full trying to get information to the employees and make everything run smoothly. First and foremost everyone is practicing social distancing.  Anyone who enters the clinics has  their temperature  taken.  At clinics video visits and telephone visits from the comfort of the patent’s home is conducted in order to protect patients and to continue their health care without exposing them to the outside world.  If deemed necessary by the Mercy Clinic Primary Care Provider the patient will have an appointment scheduled.  Employees also are asked to limit their time in public places.  Most importantly everyone is following the Governor’s State Mandate, to stay at home; wear masks everywhere and wash and sanitize their hands constantly.

In just a short time Cohea and the medical community as a whole is on high alert and sensitive to the fears that COVID-19 brings with it.  For the safety of patients and the community one of the clinics has been converted into  a Dedicated Care Clinic.  Cohea explained that the approach to the virus has been comprehensive, including rolling out testing sites and making dedicated areas for prospective patients.  The Dedicated Care area allows medical personnel to have the best care for those patients with respiratory illness and need access to the facilities.

The Care Area also allows patients to be seen in a timely manner, but with this comes the elements of nature that employees face.  Cohea said, “We are seeing patients in high winds, rain, and some very cold air to protect everyone as best we can.”

Even though the entire situation everyone is in can be very stressful,  “The physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and registrars have all been absolutely amazing and willing to do whatever it takes to care for all our communities,” Cohea said.

One more aspect of a person in the medical field worries about is the possibility of taking  the virus home.  Cohea explains protocols are in place for workers when they leave each day.  Employees  leave the scrubs they worked in at work, and they are commercially cleaned. After changing into street clothes they go straight home and shower.  She finished by saying “ We take every precautions we can and still we worry about our families.”