We hope that everyone is keeping well during this global pandemic. As a primary health innovation company providing end-to-end primary care for informal, urban settlements in Kenya, COVID-19 is impacting our business in unprecedented ways. We are responding on three levels: keeping our clinicians and patients safe, launching a telemedicine platform to support remote care, and spreading scientifically accurate information to patients and providers.
Because we are on the frontlines, fighting for the safety of some of the most vulnerable communities in Kenya, all of our 17 sites are remaining open to serve patients during this time.
Keeping Patients and Providers Safe
We put the safety of our team first. Our headquarters team is on a 70% remote work strategy with only essential functions such as receiving stock and quality assurance visits to clinics happening on site. All clinics are equipped with protective equipment for our staff and much more hand sanitizer than usual.
We are also providing hand sanitizer to our patients, who are not able to wash their hands as they do not have running water. We are doubling down on cleaning and disinfecting our clinics and keeping them safe for the approximately 8,000 people who depend on them every single month. Because of the outbreak, our patients need additional support, so we are forging partnerships with groups that are offering food aid and basic goods for Kenyans living in informal settlements who cannot afford to just stay home.
We are excited to launch mDaktari ConnectMed. This is our telemedicine platform which we have recently opened up to the general public. All of our patients will get codes to use it for free so that they do not need to come to crowded clinics. Online, people can buy consultations for $3. ConnectMed is compliant, approved for use, and able to provide people with e-prescriptions and sick notes. Patients with telemedicine prescriptions and with chronic conditions are getting their medications pre-packed, so that they can get in and out of the clinics quickly.
We have already created a course on Access Afya Academy with WHO and Ministry of Health guidelines, and all of our health workers are enrolled. We are also updating our team regularly with reliable, vetted information from one of our physicians, on our newly created #covidhotline slack channel.
Our staff is counseling our patients who come in nervous. We are helping our patients understand what is happening and dispelling common myths and misperceptions. We have also created a COVID-19 Risk Self Assessment, designed for people living in Kenya, and launched the #UnitedAgainstCorona initiative in partnership with other healthcare providers to bring relevant, useful content and services to the East African community.
We are at the beginning of this and believe it will make us rethink how we work as a team and as part of a health system permanently. We are nervous. The challenges that the United States and European health systems are facing — lack of testing kits, rising prices of essential commodities, and shortages of masks, sanitizer, and ventilators — are all magnified here. Our clinics’ operating costs are going up.
But we are optimistic. Our remote work strategy has us discovering new ways to create transparency and accountability that will certainly come back to the office with us. Our tech team is using Google Hangouts to exercise together every single morning to stay close to each other, even while spread out over the city. Two weeks ago, a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) driver who runs errands for us helped us rescue a patient with a severe assault wound. And we recently traded our normal clinic anniversary presents at our Reuben Gatoto clinic for thermometers for every patient to take home.
We are updating our operations constantly, and preparing for further spread in Kenya. Through this unprecedented crisis, we remain diligent in providing access to affordable, quality healthcare for every patient, every time.
Guest blog by Melissa Menke | Access Afya Founder and CEO, Miller Center GSBI 2016 participant