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In the Field: MCN Links Up Health Centers to Confront Zika Head-on

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Puerto Rico is in the midst of a Zika virus outbreak, and health centers are scrambling to keep up in their fight against the virus. Last week, Migrant Clinicians Network facilitated a joint call between three health centers in Puerto Rico and the Primary Care Association, to determine the strongest methods of collaboration to benefit their patient populations in light of the spread of the serious virus. On June 28th, MCN will launch a new knowledge-sharing network for Puerto Rican clinicians, based on the highly effective Project ECHO model, which uses telecommunications technology to open up a space for learning about best practices and establishing collaborations. On last week’s call, the early benefits of such a forum for clinicians was already made clear, said Deliana Garcia, MCN’s Director of International Projects, Research, and Development.

“One of the clinicians said that they had diagnosed 50 pregnant women with the Zika virus, and they went to each of their homes and fumigated,” Garcia recalled, an approach that other health centers hadn’t considered. “Another clinician noted that when the health center provides larger waiting room presentations, no one pays attention -- but when they do smaller, four- to five-person group discussions, then people really key into what’s going on and have questions.” Such on-the-ground tips -- and a provided space for clinicians to share what’s been effective and what hasn’t been as successful -- are critical in moving quickly to address the threat of the virus and to advance education among patients.

“There’s so much to learn, and all we need is the opportunity to communicate with one another,” Garcia noted. “So much of what is employed on the ground has merit and could be useful elsewhere.”

 

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