One healthcare organization in the Fredericksburg, Virginia, area is working to keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital by providing targeted care at home.
Though it may seem to many like the Omicron surge is waning, on Wednesday night in Virginia, more than 1500 people were still hospitalized and receiving treatment for the coronavirus.
The surge hit Mary Washington Healthcare hard in January, too. The emergency room saw a sudden 75% increase in patients.
“Which translated into upwards of 200 COVID, very sick patients in our hospital at one time, and it overloaded our ICUs,” Dr. Steve Mandell said.
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The hospital opened a field hospital in the parking garage to help handle the spike, but by the time it was set up, the numbers had eased a bit.
At the same time, though, the healthcare organization developed a plan to help sick COVID-19 patients stay at home, and to help those hospitalized get discharged sooner.
A program called Safe at Home was born.
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Patients would leave the hospital with equipment (a thermometer, pulseoximeter, sometimes even oxygen) and a plan in place for other treatments.
Then, every day for a week, a nurse called to check on them.
“Our protocol included the nurses calling on a daily basis, asking them a scripted number of questions and then asking them and following to make sure clinically they are better,” Mandell said.
The program also included two video appointments with a nurse practitioner.
The feedback has been very positive.
“Obviously patients love when they don't have to be admitted to the hospital so certainly those that we were able to discharge, really was a very favorable thing,” Mandell said.
So far, about 100 patients have been monitored through the Safe at Home program. Not one person has been readmitted to the hospital.
Mandell said the model of monitored home care will likely be expanded to include patients with other types of illness.