Project Access Tarrant County

Moving Forward

By Kathryn Narumiya

This article was originally published in the July/August issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

After nearly a decade under the leadership of Dr. Jim Cox (and during a pandemic, no less), Dr. Stuart Pickell joined Project Access Tarrant County as the new medical director. He reviewed his first patient chart in December 2020 and made the transition seamless. 

Dr. Pickell has long been involved in Tarrant County’s charitable network. He volunteered at Beautiful Feet (Christian Community Health Clinic) for over fifteen years and became involved with an informal gathering of clinic leadership, led by then-TCMS CEO Robin Sloane. In these meetings, attendees shared challenges and possible solutions regarding their patients’ barriers to care. Dr. Pickell says, “Access to specialists and surgeons was always at the top of the list.” As a member of the TCMS Board of Advisors and the current TCMS vice president, Dr. Pickell has stayed apprised and supportive of PATC’s activities over the past decade.

We are blessed with many gifted and generous physicians willing to donate their time and expertise to care for patients in need.  Our next hurdle is to build and expand collaborative relationships with the entities we need to allow those physicians to do just that. David Capper, MD, long-time PATC board member, says, “Stuart Pickell carries forth from the superb foundation of medical direction and immense respectability established by Dr Cox. He also enriches the position with practical insights that benefit both patients and clinicians.”

While he was not surprised, Dr. Pickell was pleased to learn the number of physicians who volunteer with PATC. Because of his history of volunteering in a primary care clinic setting, he was well aware of the barriers clinics face with accessing specialty care. He also knew that many specialists want to give back but do not feel they have a mechanism to utilize their area of expertise. This connection, Dr. Pickell believes, is where PATC shines. “By creating networks of charity clinics, specialists, and surgeons, supporting personnel and outpatient facilities specialists and surgeons can treat as many patients as they want in their own clinics on their own time.  It’s a win-win.”

Dr. Pickell recognizes the challenge that PATC faces in trying to provide care to as many patients as possible. “Leveraging the strength of many team members with unique skill sets and gifts, we can realize better outcomes for patients,” Dr. Pickell says. “Medical systems, which are the community’s greatest tangible resource for healthcare, value collaboration as well, but most of their energy is spent within their systems.  They may share common goals and understand the community value of bridging silos, but they continue to function independently, competing rather than cooperating with the other systems.” Dr. Pickell sees this as a critical area of growth to sustain PATC. 

When asked what his vision for PATC’s future is, Dr. Pickell says, “There are several priorities that I believe will help PATC continue to be strong and expand.  The first is financial sustainability.  Even though we offer charity care, there are still costs.  We seek to minimize these, but they are an ever-present reality.  The second is to expand networks – build a stronger team of partners willing to donate time, equipment, and facilities.  Finally, we need to expand the specialty services we can offer.  We already do well at this, but there is always room for improvement, and we still have needs in some specialties.”

“Fundamentally, my long-term vision is that Project Access Tarrant County would become a model for providing healthcare services to the underserved.  We need to expand on the excellent foundation that has been laid by Dr. Cox and his team and expand our network so that patients who need specialty services will be able to access them.”

Dr. Pickell is a welcome addition to PATC leadership. “I am a strong advocate for teamwork in healthcare, for collaboration, and for cooperation,” he says. “Project Access is about improving the healthcare of our most vulnerable residents through collaboration.  It seeks to create bridges between the silos in health care – the hospital systems, the physicians, the all-important ancillary staff – to improve the health of those who otherwise would be unable to afford it.  Project Access seeks the common ground of shared values, those things that unite us in our human condition.   This may be aspirational, but it is an aspiration worth striving for.”

TMA Urges Governor to Allow Local Mask, Vaccination Decisions

A Message from the TMA President

As physicians across the state toil against the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Medical Association leaders met with Gov. Greg Abbott’s office [on August 20] to ask for greater flexibility at the local level to respond to and slow the surge and its emotional and physical impacts on you and the health care system. 

As this latest wave has shown, we are seeing many more patients who are younger and sicker requiring hospitalization and intensive care, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. This is particularly concerning for kids under the age of 12 who do not yet have access to a vaccine. 

Because all disasters are local – and because so many of you have reached out to us – the TMA Board of Trustees, in an emergency meeting last Sunday, unanimously decided we needed to take action to reach out to the governor. 

On Friday, I led a meeting with the governor’s chief of staff, Luis Saenz, and deputy chief of staff Garland Pate. Joining me in the virtual meeting were TMA President-Elect Gary Floyd, MD; TMA Board of Trustees Chair Richard W. Snyder II, MD; TMA Board of Trustees Vice Chair G. Ray Callas, MD; and TMA Executive Vice President and CEO Michael J. Darrouzet. 

Our request to the governor on behalf of the TMA Board of Trustees: Please allow all institutions – including schools, school districts, hospitals, health care facilities, medical schools, and medical centers, regardless of funding source – to make local, independent decisions regarding vaccinations and the use of masks, preferably in consultation with physicians in those communities, and always using evidence-based data to inform their decisions. 

The lengthy discussion underscored the need for physicians and state leadership to continue educating Texans about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and to address vaccine hesitancy. 

TMA understands and appreciates all you are doing during this difficult time to address the needs of your communities and your patients. We are taking steps to ensure your viability, resiliency, and knowledge of the current crisis. 

Please continue to share your stories, issues, and concerns. And we will always be keeping you abreast of the association’s advocacy activities in Texas Medicine Today and through the COVID-19 Resource Center.


Sincerely,

E. Linda Villarreal, MD
President
Texas Medical Association

North Central Texas COVID-19 Regional Infusion Center Opens in Fort Worth

Today, a COVID-19 Regional Infusion Center offering the monoclonal antibody treatment Regeneron – COV (Casirivimab plus Imdevimab) opened in Fort Worth. According to the Infusion Center Info Sheet, “[t]his site will accept patient referrals from healthcare providers across TSAs C, D, and E to help administer COVID therapeutics quickly and safely with the goal of preventing patients from needing hospitalization.”

Referrals are required for treatment. To see if your patients qualifies, check the North Central Texas COVID-19 Regional Infusion Info Sheet. If they are eligible, you can complete the referral by filling out this form and sending in in by fax (210-208-5295) or email (InfusionReferral@bcfs.net).

Walk-up COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for the Fridays in August

Today and on Friday, August 27, you can receive a free COVID-19 vaccine from Tarrant County Public Health at Sundance Square Plaza Pavilion. All three vaccines will be available.

August 20 hours: 11am-8pm

August 27 hours: 11am-6pm

You can call Tarrant County Public Health’s COVID-19 hotline for more information at 817-248-6299.

We Might be Done With COVID-19, But It Is Not Done With Us

A message to the community from Tarrant County physicians

The current surge in COVID-19 cases in the Tarrant County area is having serious consequences that could impact patient outcomes.

  • Hospitals are currently at, or over, their staffing capacity with very few open ICU beds available across Tarrant County.
  • Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are straining to meet the overwhelming needs in the hospitals.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations aren’t just a problem of the unvaccinated, they also strain the resources that are needed to treat other medical conditions and emergencies.

To avoid this, we urge the community to recognize this current crisis and take the simple and familiar steps that are proven to be effective against the spread of COVID-19.

  • We must continue to wear our masks, wash our hands, and be cautious about how we gather.
  • Because the Delta variant is the most contagious variant yet and has the potential for spread by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, we encourage everyone to wear a mask in public while indoors and outdoors when unable to socially distance.
  • In addition, those who are not fully vaccinated should limit gathering with those outside of their household, especially while indoors.

Vaccination is the safest and most effective way by which we can protect ourselves from this deadly virus and get back to normal.

  • With over 350 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine given in the U.S., evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines is overwhelming.
  • Being fully vaccinated results in an 8-fold reduction of having symptomatic COVID-19, a 25-fold reduction in being hospitalized and a 25-fold reduction in death from COVID-19. We strongly encourage every eligible person to get vaccinated – immediately.

As a community, we are at a tipping point. Let’s move in the right direction.

  • Each one of us can do our part to stop the spread, break the cycle, and defeat this pandemic once and for all. The choice is ours.

The Tarrant County Medical Society is a membership organization for the physicians serving the Tarrant County community. TCMS has been dedicated to the improvement of the art and science of medicine since 1903.

MedStar COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

Come to MedStar’s headquarters
Get vaccinated by First Responders & view our
9-1-1 Communications Center

Friday, August 20, 2021
10am–4pm
2900 Alta Mere Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76116

18 years and older are eligible for 1st dose.
12 years and older are eligible for 2nd dose.
Parent must be present with a minor to receive the vaccine.

To register, scan the QR code, or go to
https://usa.quickscreen.health/medstar-vaccination#/screening.

Insured and uninsured welcome. If insured, please have insurance info ready when registering and present health insurance and identification for on-site vaccination.

JPS Opens Clinic to Serve Growing Behavioral Health Needs of Tarrant County

JPS Health Network announces the opening of a new outpatient Behavioral Health clinic that will both increase the number of patients it can treat and allow it to enhance the services it offers people in need of care.

Called the JPS Center for Behavioral Health Recovery, the facility has replaced the outdated, Hemphill Outpatient Behavioral Health clinic, which was on the southwest corner of the JPS campus in Fort Worth. The facility is located a few blocks to the north in a more inviting and more purposefully designed building at 601 W. Terrell Avenue.

Slightly larger than the Hemphill site, the new clinic features a much more efficient use of space. Doctors, nurses and other team members cared for about 160 people each day at the former building. They expect to be able to greatly expand their capacity to serve those with behavioral health needs at the new site.

“I challenge people who say facilities don’t have anything to do with the quality of care that we can provide to patients,” said Teneisha Kennard, Executive Director of Behavioral Health Ambulatory Services at the health network. “We prioritize treating our patients with dignity and respect, and this new building will show our patients and community our commitment to caring for them. There is dignity, respect, and a sense of worth in this new building.”

The Center for Behavioral Health recovery will unite traditional outpatient Behavioral Health services offered at Hemphill including evaluation, diagnosis, medication management, brief psychotherapy, psychological testing, and group therapies with access to primary care physicians and lab testing under one roof.

Features of the new Behavioral Health clinic include:

  • Space for a primary care physician and phlebotomists who can perform tests on-site instead of sending patients to the main hospital, requiring an extra trip back and forth.
  • Dedicated space for psychological testing and for psychologists to meet with patients
  • More open and inviting spaces that will contribute to a more constructive environment for patients
  • Easier to get to, with more on-site parking and a bus stop in front of the building for patients who rely on public transportation.

The new location, which previously served as the home of the JPS Center for Cancer Care, has been extensively remodeled since cancer services were moved in May 2019 to a much larger, updated JPS Oncology and Infusion Center on 8th Avenue.

The Hemphill site will be torn down in the coming weeks, and turned into a parking lot to facilitate the next moves in the health network’s $800 million bond construction project. Tentative Phase I plans call for a new Psychiatric Emergency Center to be built on existing employee parking lots closer to the center of the main JPS campus.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 08/13/21

COVID-19 Positive cases: 283,762

COVID-19 related deaths: 3696

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 264,496

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Friday, August 13, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 08/05/21

COVID-19 Positive cases: 277,004

COVID-19 related deaths: 3669

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 261,968

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Thursday, August 5, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.