Our Lady of Hope Clinic challenged by pandemic and personnel issues Print
Around the Diocese
Written by David R. J. Stiennon, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, May. 07, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Our Lady of Hope Clinic has been hit by multiple challenges during the last three months.

The pandemic has not only altered how health care is provided but has all but eliminated the availability of volunteer medical assistants at the 11-year-old Odana Rd. clinic on Madison's west side.

Open for members and uninsured recipients

Dr. Michael Kloess and Dr. Elizabeth Larson continue to serve an average of six uninsured patients daily, while providing enhanced access primary care to members of the clinic.

Dr. Kloess has been buoyed by a continued commitment to fulfill the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church.

"We provide free care to the uninsured who would otherwise have nowhere to turn during this pandemic. We also offer direct primary care medical service to our members who pay a monthly subscription to access clinic services and gain direct communication with clinic staff," said Dr. Kloess.

He added that this member support plus money from local donors has provided the needed sustenance to maintain clinic operations. Challenges persist like new processes for handling patients and a change in staff personnel.

Pandemic procedural adjustments

Like other clinics, Our Lady of Hope has needed to rework procedures and staffing. Registration of patients has had to be changed since patients are seen on a walk-in basis and the waiting room is now restricted due to social distancing guidelines.

The outside door is now locked. Patients are not utilizing the waiting room and instead make a call to the clinic with health information and wait in their cars for a return call when one of the doctors is ready to see them.

Fortunately, according to Dr. Kloess, the clinic has enough personal protective equipment for now. "We have had people donating surgical masks and home-made masks to the clinic."

Personnel challenges abound

Normally the clinic relies on two to four undergraduate students per day as volunteers, but the pandemic has transitioned area schools to online classes and sent most students back to their hometowns.

Dr. Kloess notes, "we are grateful for the few local students who continue to volunteer faithfully, but when we are used to having 20 to 30 volunteers rotating through the clinic, having only a handful puts a strain on the clinic's daily operation."

Recently the clinic has hired a new clinic manager and replaced its medical assistant.

"We are also currently looking for a new development director, someone who is pro-life and believes strongly in our Catholic health care mission," said Dr. Kloess.

"Finding a development director who is comfortable building relationships, asking for donations, and also faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church is a unique profile."

Referrals from area priests and faithful Catholics are one way of finding this type of individual. The clinic hopes to find someone with good people skills and a proven track record with a dedication to the mission.

Fertility care practice

The clinic's mission also involves a commitment to providing family planning services consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. While Dr. Kloess, a family practitioner, provides primary care to men, women, and children of all ages, his passion is fertility care.

He is trained in Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro), a women's health science that monitors and maintains a woman's reproductive health. Since 2009, Dr. Kloess has helped over 200 couples start or expand their families using proven scientific methods that are 100 percent pro-life.

Despite the pandemic, this service is continuing, although many follow-up appointments are now done by telemedicine.

"Thankfully as a direct primary care clinic, we have had extensive experience with providing telehealth visits," said Dr. Kloess, "and continuing with NaPro technology visits are crucial for women struggling with infertility."

Despite all the challenges of an ongoing pandemic, the clinic continues to serve its patients, including those without insurance, and looks forward to maintaining and expanding its mission of providing health care fully in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church.