Voices from the Front Lines: Jana K. Zaudke MD, MA, Caritas Clinics

We asked SCL Health caregivers on the front lines to share their brave experiences during the battle against this unprecedented pandemic. Here are their Voices From The Front Line:

Jana K. Zaudke MD, MA
Medical Director
Caritas Clinics, Inc. – Duchesne Clinic and Saint Vincent Clinics in Kansas

I work at Duchesne Clinic and Saint Vincent Clinic, two safety net clinics in KS within our SCL Health family. Our clinics were founded over 30 years ago by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth to serve the poor, vulnerable and uninsured in the counties surrounding each clinic.

In March in the midst of the pandemic, we were able to pivot quickly to telephone visits, maintaining full clinical capacity. To our surprise, we found that our low tech solution enhanced access to care and empowered many of our patients to participate in their health in new ways.

One patient, in particular, helped me understand this. Let's call her Margarita. She thanked me for the call, stating that she was on a break at work. Her hours had been cut, and although she was grateful to be considered essential, she was even more grateful that visiting with her doctor did not cut further into her hours at work.

To my delight, she then went on to set the agenda for our visit, taking control of the call by running through her log of blood pressures, and confirming her blood pressure medications and daily doses. Through a local grant, Margarita received a home monitoring blood pressure cuff from us, and she leveraged this resource to make the most of our time together.

My epiphany came as the call came to a close, and I realized that connecting with Margarita helped me understand how she needs to access healthcare. Margarita has lived her entire life against all odds – uninsured, working poor, undocumented, chronic conditions, lives in a zip code associated with premature death – and it took this pandemic to loosen our systems and my thinking to get closer to meeting her needs. My story on the front lines isn't just about small, practical lessons learned from Margarita – it's about a thought experiment, a new operational design, and a vision of equity.

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