SALEM, Ore. — People in Salem with upper respiratory symptoms who want to see a doctor but aren’t sick enough to need hospitalization have a new option.
In fact, it came together in just two weeks and launched Monday.
“We’re not the ambulance. We’re not 911,” said nurse practitioner Dani Dupuis, president of the Alluvium Mobile Health Team.
The program came about after EMS crews with Salem Fire noticed the growing category of patients, who also weren’t sick enough to get tested for COVID-19.
They knew how hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots like New York and Seattle had gotten overwhelmed, and they wanted to create a middle ground that let people visit doctors without crowding those public spaces.
“So I pitched the idea of a mobile health team,” said Deputy Chief Gabriel Benmoussa.
Within two weeks, United Way, The Salem Health Foundation and ARCHES, which serves the city’s homeless, got on board, donating $35,000 for basic medical supplies and insurance.
Using the money, a donated ambulance and volunteer physicians and nurse practitioners, they’ll offer the service on a first-come first-serve basis.
“And if we do have clients of ARCHES who are hospitalized with COVID, then when they're discharged from the hospital they'll be housed through the ARCHES project and alluvium will provide the follow-up care,” said local physician Dr. Lara Knudsen.
“We have the flexibility and the freedom to think outside the box and… it really gets me excited to be a part of something like this with really, really special people,” said Dupuis.
The group is looking for more healthcare providers to volunteer.
You can find more information on the group's website.