BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It all started when Dr. Raul Vazquez’s 24-year-old daughter Nadia got sick. She had a fever and shortness of breath. Three days after coming home from the hospital, she received a call that she was positive for COVID-19.
The process caused him to think: How would this experience have been if he wasn’t a doctor? Or f his family had no doctor at all?
“On the East side, you can have about 35,000 to 40,000 people who don't have a primary care doctor,” Dr. Vazquez said, “A lot of it is Medicaid or uninsured individuals that not everyone wants to manage.”
But he wants to help, because when dealing with COVID-19, this population is at great risk.
“If you don't have a primary care, you can't test right? And then if you test, who's going to treat them?” Vazquez said.
Dr. Vazquez stepped up. He began a call system that reaches about 2,000 people a day. The message explains the virus's symptoms in both English and Spanish. It then provides a phone number to reach a nurse.
“We're just trying to get to those who don't have doctors and also make sure the ones that we manage the right testing and follow up,” Dr. Vazquez said.
Vazquez and a group of 250 other physicians will treat those without a family doctor through virtual visits by a video or phone call. If needed, a nurse will visit their home. But Dr. Vasquez has gone a step further.
“They're not testing in certain zip codes like the 14215. As a result of not testing, you're seeing the death rate. The case fatality rates are much higher in the 14215,” said Dr. Vazquez, “This is really going to destroy the black and brown community.
He created a testing site at his office on the East side.
“They just walk down the paperwork is already put out and they get the test and they leave,” said Dr. Vazquez.
Right now the testing facility only has about a hundred tests, but Vazquez wants to start small and grow in the future.