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Keywords

SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus infections; COVID-19; pandemics; primary health care; primary care physicians; needs assessment; delivery of health care

Disciplines

Health Services Research | Primary Care

Abstract

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for primary care practices while also highlighting their importance in the pandemic response. To understand primary care practice needs, a survey was conducted of practices in Western North Carolina.

Methods

Phase 2 of a primary care needs assessment was administered to 63 practices in Western North Carolina over the course of six weeks, from July 23 to August 31, 2021.

Results

Most practices were operating with normal hours, though some still operated with reduced hours. Many practices reported insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies. While most practices provided at least some care via telehealth, practices cited different barriers to providing telehealth, with patient technology challenges being the most frequently cited.

Discussion

Practices have adapted to the restrictions of the pandemic, but many are still vulnerable, and the patients they serve may face reduced access to care due to practice limitations or barriers to telehealth. Practices play a critical role in providing care to patients throughout the pandemic and continue to assist in pandemic response by providing COVID-19 testing and other services.

Conclusion

Primary care practices in Western North Carolina continue to provide care to patients and support the overall pandemic response. The pandemic has highlighted the need to include primary care in emergency response efforts. Ongoing work will allow North Carolina to reach practices more effectively in future crises via the newly created NC Responds system, which allows primary care practices to be contacted in the event of a public health emergency.

Friedman_vol2iss6_Supplement.pdf (81 kB)
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