As local hospitals have worked to increase their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, San Diego area health clinics have transformed the way they deliver care.

At La Maestra Community Health Centers’ facility in City Heights, the clinic has limited the services it provides in person, but it remains open to serve its patients whose incomes are at or below poverty level. 

“We have to stay open. Our patients are not going to go anywhere else,” said Sonia Tucker, the centers’ quality improvement director.

Besides City Heights, La Maestra has health centers in El Cajon, National City and Lemon Grove.

inewsource visited the City Heights clinic on a recent Wednesday to see how its healthcare workers were meeting the challenges of serving patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

When patients arrive for appointments at the clinic, they are directed to specific entrances where they are screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

In a separate building that had been used to assist human trafficking victims, clinic workers have created what they call the “Cold and Cough Clinic.” 

Any patients who arrive with coronavirus-related symptoms are sent to that building for treatment. The staffers who work there rotate weekly to try to limit the amount of exposure they have to COVID-19.  

Here are some scenes captured at the clinic.

Wind blows through an empty isolation tent set up for patients who arrive at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic with COVID-19 symptoms, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Quality Improvement Director Sonia Tucker walks down a staircase at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Healthcare staffers at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic work in an area that has been temporarily converted to receive patients who have COVID-19 symptoms, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Medical assistant Ana Cuesta Zavala secures her face shield before entering a patient’s room at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic, April 8, 2020. The clinic has converted a building that used to be used to assist victims of human trafficking into a space to treat patients who have COVID-19 symptoms. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Medical assistant Reuben Nava walks past an isolation room that has been set up at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic for patients who may have COVID-19, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Nurse practitioner Kristen Kellogg pauses after changing into clean personal protective equipment at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic, April 8, 2020. Healthcare workers volunteered to work one-week rotations in this area of the clinic where patients with COVID-19 symptoms are treated. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Healthcare workers are shown in a room where they change into clean personal protective equipment at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic, April 8, 2020. Due to PPE shortages, workers wipe down face shields to reuse them rather than replacing them after each use. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Lab technician Sandra Issak enters an isolation room to administer a COVID-19 test to a patient at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Lab technician Sandra Issak discards her medical gown and gloves in a biohazard bag after administering a COVID-19 test to a patient in an isolated area at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Elevators from the parking garage at La Maestra Community Health Centers City Heights clinic are closed off with caution tape to ensure all visitors enter through a COVID-19 screening point, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Zoë Meyers is a photo and video journalist at inewsource. Zoë loves working as a visual journalist because it gives her the privilege of witnessing moments in people's personal lives and in our community that can enhance our understanding of important stories. When she's not behind the camera,...