Finding a new normal: Clinical director shares how infusion clinic is continuing to serve its patients

Nurses in hallway
Photo provided by Palmetto Infusion

As our community works to collectively adjust to this new normal, we want to share the perspectives of people in the Charleston community who are working to adapt their lifestyles, family dynamics, business models, workflow, + more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we’re hearing from Penny Crimminger, Clinical Director at Palmetto Infusion. Palmetto Infusion has 20 clinics throughout South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia that provide infusion or injection to patients with chronic illness.

Interested in sharing your own experience? Click here to submit.

What do you do for a living?
I have over 35 years’ experience as a registered nurse and currently serve as a Clinical Director for Palmetto Infusion. We have 20 clinics throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia that provide medications by infusion or injection to patients. Most of our patients have a chronic illness and are dependent on their medication for controlling their disease or improving and/or maintaining their quality of life.

How has your work been affected by coronavirus?

Our patients are dependent on the medication we administer – and many treatments must be done under a doctor or nurse’s care. These treatments aren’t elective, so we must find ways to safely continue on. Some of our staff are able to work from home (Insurance Case Managers, Schedulers, and Patient Account Representatives), but all of our clinical staff like myself, our Pharmacists, Pharmacy Techs, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Doctors, and front desk staff continue to come to the clinics. Even before the spread of coronavirus, we took special precautions to care for people with suppressed immune systems, but our precautions are now even more comprehensive. One of the biggest changes is that we screen our staff and patients with questions and check their temperature prior to entering the clinics.

Other everyday things are changing too. For example, our break room is no longer a gathering area for lunch. Everyone tends to eat lunch in their vehicle. Also, our staff enters the clinic by a different door than patients, and all staff members wear masks in the clinical areas. Many of our patients now come to their appointments wearing masks. However important it is, unfortunately, it feels like removing a small “human” element from our job and can make patients and staff feel isolated. But, we are working hard to provide everyone a safe environment.

How has your personal life and/or family been affected by coronavirus?

I have a son that is home from The Citadel and doing online classes, I have a husband that is “on leave” from work, and I have not been able to hug my grandchildren for several weeks.

What impacts do you think the pandemic will have on your life and/or business as time goes on?

My personal concern is that I may have family or friends who are physically affected by this virus. I believe that Palmetto Infusion will continue to serve our patients and keep them safe. We have great a leadership team in place who are making important calls each and every day.

If your business and/or industry has been affected by the coronavirus, what can members of the community do to support your business and others like it during this time?

We encourage anyone who can to donate plasma. This cause is extremely near and dear to our hearts, as many of the therapies we treat our patients with are derived from plasma. The decrease in plasma donations now will most certainly impact the supply of plasma protein therapies within the next year. In addition, like many others in the healthcare industry, we could use more personal protective equipment and are hopeful the supply chain will catch up with the increased demand.

What do you look forward to doing the most once everything goes back to normal?

Hugging my grandchildren and going out to eat!

What message do you have for the Charleston community right now?

Please stay home, stay safe, and pray for our country, state, community and frontline healthcare workers.

These are hard times for everyone, but we are continuing to see amazing acts of kindness and staff going above and beyond in our facilities to keep our patients happy and feeling safe. It’s a small piece of the puzzle but that goes a long way in times like this.