GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Whether you are uninsured and battling a chronic illness or are facing homelessness in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, local health professionals at Bon Secours St. Francis are reaching out to help in several ways.
Virtual visits and information hotlines
To share critical information with the public, Bon Secours St. Francis Health is offering free virtual visits for those with COVID-19 symptoms. This allows anyone to speak to a doctor about COVID-related symptoms via phone or video chat.
For health issues not related to the coronavirus, doctors are primarily visiting patients virtually and, if needed, in person. You can contact your Bon Secours primary care provider’s office to set up an appointment with your doctor.
If you have a question about COVID-19, you can talk to Bon Secours staff members by calling a hotline number, 1-800-700-9011.
“They can answer the general questions and if it’s medical we’ve got a team of registered nurses that take that call,” Dr. Blackstone said.
You can also click here to chat with a virtual assistant online, which provides links to resources and the latest information about the disease.
Resources for homeless population
As a faith-based organization, Bon Secours is dedicated to serving the community and is working with local shelters to serve the growing homeless population in our area, which shelters say appears to be growing due to strains caused by the pandemic. They are also advising shelters in ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Their lifestyle is, they share everything and they live close together,” Dr. Blackstone explained. “It’s tough when you’re putting that many people in one place, but (Greenville homeless shelters) are working with us and we are doing what we can to help them be able to do that… Right now, that’s an expanding population. People who have been in our hospitals or are COVID positive and don’t have anywhere to go, we are looking at shelter mechanisms for them so we can try to control the spread in the homeless community,” he added.
Doctors are directing people in the Upstate to contact local homeless shelters if they are in that situation and are reminding them to practice social distancing and limit close contact with others as much as possible.
“I think the biggest thing is, as much as you can, try not to share things, especially food articles,” he said.
If you are experiencing homelessness and need help, a COVID-19 hotline is available from the United Way of Greenville County as your one-stop statewide resource. You can call 2-1-1 any time from a land line, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to access free vital services. People can also call 1-866-892-9211 or visit http://www.sc211.org/.
New information related to housing assistance due to the COVID-19 crisis is available by calling 2-1-1.
Those facing or experiencing homelessness in Greenville can find lists of shelters in Greenville County, free meal services, public restroom locations, hand washing stations, affordable housing options and more from the Greenville Homeless Alliance online by clicking here.
Bon Secours has suspended all billing and financial statements around COVID-19 diagnoses. Staff said there will be no upfront payments required at the time of service if a patient receives screening, testing or treatment related to COVID-19.
Bon Secours will bill insurance, but will suspend patient statements until we make the necessary arrangements with insurers, lab partners, state and federal governments.This policy is part of Bon Secours’ ongoing commitment to care for all people in need, with high-quality care, regardless of their ability to pay.
Additionally, if you are uninsured or under-served, Bon Secours has a team devoted to community wellness outreach that can help virtually.
“Within our community ministries group, we have social workers, nurses, care managers who are accessible to not only our patients locally, to help steer them to the right resources, whether that’s medications, food, care they need or financial assistance. They are helping… to do that virtually,” Bon Secours Chief Clinical Officer Marcus Blackstone said.
Bon Secours nurse Irene Peña is one of several nurses on the Bon Secours Community Wellness Outreach and Healthy Communities Initiative team. They are now working virtually to connect agencies with people who either need financial assistance with medical bills or need help getting access to food, medication, transportation or other resources.
“We are very aware of the different programs that will be the best match for the client based on their needs,” she said.
Those who meet certain criteria, including being under-served, uninsured, having a chronic illness diagnosis and needing to use an emergency service could qualify for benefits through the Healthy Outcomes Plan (HOP), for example.
Peña said many needing help with transportation, food and finances are in Greenville’s Hispanic population and said many are scared to ask for assistance due to immigration issues. She urged everyone who needs help, regardless of their situation, to call Bon Secour’s team, which is eager to serve the community.
The Bon Secours Wellness Outreach phone number is 864-241-5125.
“You will press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish and leave your name and number. We are constantly listening to the voice messages,” she said. “We have a team of bilingual social workers and nurses working full time and we will get to you promptly.”
If you would like to donate items, funds or food to Bon Secours staff working on the frontlines of the crisis, click here for more information on how to do so. Currently, Bon Secours is accepting donations of goggles, face shields, masks, latex gloves and Tyvek suits.
Dr. Blackstone said the response from the community has been humbling. “We want to say thank you to people who have donated to us; everything from supplies to food for our staff to monetary contributions to help our front lines staff.”