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MCN and Puerto Rico Primary Care Association Launch Zika ECHO Clinic

MCN Zika Echo Project

Yesterday, over 40 Puerto Rican nurses, promotores de salud, and other health care providers and advocates logged on to virtually participate in Zika ECHO Clinic: Puerto Rico, a new ECHO project facilitated by the Puerto Rico Primary Care Association and Migrant Clinicians Network. The second interactive video conference call solidified the new initiative, the first of its kind in Puerto Rico and a promising tool for primary care clinicians confronting the Zika virus in their clinics.

Daniel Ramos, MPHE, Puerto Rico director of the ECHO project and Specialist in Training and Technical Assistance with the Asociación de Salud Primaria de Puerto Rico, facilitated the call along with Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez, MD, MPCH, CNC, MCN’s Senior Advisor for Scientific and Strategic Planning.

“This is really designed for people on the front lines” in the fight against Zika, which continues to spread through Puerto Rico, said MCN’s Jillian Hopewell, MPA, MA. Through the ongoing monthly video conference calls, participants will explore case studies and up-to-the-minute information presented by experts in the field, share their own best practices, and offer up concerning issues in their health clinics for creative troubleshooting as a group.

This month’s call started off with two expert presentations. Carmen Zorrilla, MD, a specialist in women’s health on the island and a member of MCN’s External Advisory Board, presented on an international study on Zika virus in pregnant women that includes Puerto Rico. Dr. Zorrilla’s presentation illuminated the steady increase of Zika cases in pregnant women since first observed at the start of the year; currently, 1,354 pregnant women tested positive for Zika. She also covered innovative programs that she is facilitating to assist pregnant women with Zika at her clinic. Participants engaged Dr. Zorrilla on a number of issues regarding pregnant women and Zika.

Next, Jose Rodriguez, MD, Hospital General Castañer’s Medical Director and a regional expert in the clinical recognition and management of pesticide exposures, spoke about the impact of pesticide use during pregnancy. Dr. Rodriguez, who also works with MCN through MCN’s Workers and Health program, emphasized the import of proper use of insecticides to prevent mosquito bites, and the dangers of misuse.

Following the presentations, three health centers presented their current efforts in supporting their patients with educational materials and resources. One health center offered up photos of their outreach team’s projects, and noted the success of approaching cars stuck in traffic jams -- a great location, they discovered, to talk to a population, as they don’t have anywhere else to go. Outreach workers in the streets, they said, handed out “Zika packs” that included insect repellent, condoms, and educational materials.

One participant raised the concern that, while her health center’s outreach program was effectively reaching women and children, they were less successful in encouraging local men to come for testing and education. “This ECHO project is the perfect tool to work on such an problem. She presents the problem to the group, and solicits ideas,” Hopewell noted. “The sharing of ideas is a key aspect to ECHO.”

The project’s next call, scheduled for early October, will continue to do just that, with ample time for case studies and knowledge sharing. The cohort will continue to meet monthly.

MCN’s Zika ECHO clinics will grow in the coming months, with two starting up later in the year in the gulf state region, one in English, and one in Spanish. For more information on the upcoming clinics, email Jillian Hopewell at jhopewell@migrantclinician.org.

LEARN MORE: Clinicians can access yesterday’s recorded interactive call at https://youtu.be/h0bikP8DYyI. Read up on the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses at MCN’s Zika page. Stay tuned for MCN’s new Project ECHO page, which should be available in the coming weeks.

 

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