As the safety-net hospital for many patients with complex social needs, the need for care and support at Zuckerberg San Francisco General (ZSFG) doesn’t disappear in the middle of a pandemic. But when housing insecurity and health issues make a patient a higher risk for contracting the virus that results in COVID-19, Social Medicine’s model of holistic care becomes essential to treating patients and mitigating the spread of the disease.

While some Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) are able to relocate to isolation and quarantine emergency housing, some require the tools to monitor their symptoms outside of coordinated care settings. And this is where Social Medicine’s ability to creatively troubleshoot comes into play.

Patient Care Coordinator Daphne Gottleib saw a need to communicate with patients once they left the Emergency Department at ZSFG. And for those without a cell phone, this is nearly impossible. Through a connection at AT&T, Daphne was able to secure 60 cell phones to share with higher risk clients without access to technology. Paid through July 2020, this temporary measure will have a strong impact during this public health crisis and beyond.

Dr. Jack Chase, Co-Director of the Social Medicine program, recognizes this simple form of communication as a longer-term solution for many of his clients. “This is a relatively low-cost device that will hopefully decrease the number of patients we lose contact with during follow-up. It is definitely a worthwhile investment for the way we provide care.”

Initially funded through a seed grant from the Foundation, Social Medicine is now integrated into the Emergency Department at ZSFG, with plans to support Psychiatric Emergency Services in the near future.