On opening day, gracious neighbors dropped off hot biscuits for health care workers. Others brought coffee. Truckers driving 18-wheelers waved and honked horns as they roared past.

The west Charlotte community welcomed the transition of the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic to a respiratory assessment center for patients who have a referral and are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The move was made to better serve a community that has disproportionately been affected by the coronavirus. Of North Carolina’s 6,951 cases of COVID-19 (through April 21), 39% are African Americans, who make up only 22% of the state’s population, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources.

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Black patients have accounted for 37% of COVID-19 deaths in North Carolina.

African Americans are at higher risk of death from coronavirus because of deep and complex social factors that have long influenced health and wellness in communities. Temporarily switching the role of the Michael Jordan clinic is one way Novant Health is working to eliminate that disparity.

“The first day was a smooth opening,” said Dr. Ray Feaster, a Novant Health physician who assessed patients at the clinic. “It was well-received by the community. A lot of people were very appreciative.”

She estimated that the clinic, at 3149 Freedom Drive in Charlotte, saw about 55 people the first day. The respiratory assessment center is staffed by two physicians and three advanced practice providers, which includes nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

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Dr. Ray Feaster

Some of the patients were COVID-19 positive and were medically evaluated through testing and screening. Understandably, a few others, which Feaster described as “the worried well,” showed up without coronavirus symptoms.

“We gave them reassurance and lots of education,” she said. The staff also helped many patients enroll in a free Novant Health MyChart account on their handheld device. More than 1 million people use the tool to communicate with their doctor, check their medical records and stay on top of their health care.

Several Novant Health teammates switched to work at the clinic because their previous locations haven’t been as busy during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re getting to know each other in the new lineup as they help treat an underserved community.

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(From left): Victoria Ragan (physican assistant), Morgan Peterson (nurse practitioner) and Amy Petticrew (physician assistant) of Novant Health South Park Family Physicians transitioned to work at the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic.

“It’s been extremely rewarding,” Feaster said. “The whole team here has a sense of pride and morale is high. I think folks have a renewed pride in what they do. Nurses, technicians and physicians, we’re all glad to be helping this community.”

Because the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic has ceased normal operations, patients in need of routine care can be seen at nearby Movement Family Wellness Center powered by Novant Health, located at 2225 Freedom Drive, in Charlotte. Novant Health has a variety of variety of virtual visits options available as well.

Novant Health opened two other respiratory assessment centers in the Charlotte region at 3330 Siskey Parkway in Matthews and 16525 Holly Crest Lane in Huntersville.

Novant Health team members are on the front lines in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Novant Health Foundation has established a new fund dedicated to supporting our teams, as well as the overall response to the pandemic. Contributions will support team members and help fund testing and medication to support patient care, as well as medical supplies. To donate, click here.

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