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St. Claire HealthCare Launches Innovative COVID Care at Home Program

St. Claire HealthCare Launches Innovative COVID Care at Home Program

Every day there are reports in the news about the growing number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization to manage their symptoms and the declining number of hospital beds available. Our community has been fortunate … while St. Claire Regional Medical Center has come close to capacity, no patients have been turned away due to lack of beds during the pandemic.

As reports of positive COVID-19 cases spiked in the area, clinical leaders at St. Claire HealthCare (SCH) began developing a creative approach to care that would not only increase capacity for critically ill patients but would also reduce stress on hospital staff and preserve valuable personal protective equipment (PPE).

“When we looked at the COVID-19 patients that were being admitted to the hospital, we saw that while they were experiencing moderate symptoms, most were not critically ill. We were treating them with medications and oxygen, both of which could be administered at home,” said Philip Overall, MD, SCH Emergency Physician and Medical Director for Pandemic Response.

Leaders from SCH’s emergency, post-acute care, and respiratory therapy departments, along with other clinic leaders, worked together to develop St. Claire HealthCare’s COVID Care at Home program.

This innovative program was designed to offer patients who present to St. Claire’s emergency department with moderate symptoms of COVID-19, but not considered to be seriously or critically ill, an alternative to hospitalization. Patients who may have previously required treatment in an inpatient setting are now being discharged from the emergency department with all the tools they need to manage their condition from the comfort of their own homes.

“We send the patients home with appropriate medications, education on how to care for themselves at home, and the tools they need to monitor their symptoms including a thermometer and pulse-oximeter, and if necessary an oxygen concentrator,” Dr. Overall said. “Then our post-acute care team steps in with follow-up care for those patients.”

Through the COVID Care at Home program, patients are monitored through virtual appointments and/or phone calls at least twice a day by members of SCH’s home health team. Patients also have 24/7 access to SCH’s on-call COVID healthcare provider. These patients are closely monitored and if at any time a patient’s condition worsens, they are advised to return to the emergency department for additional medical care.

“Our goal is to take care of as many patients as we can in a safe and effective manner,” said Jennifer Hardin, PA-C, SCH Director, Home Care Services. “COVID Care at Home is an innovative way to expand capacity while ensuring our patients receive the support they need to manage their condition from the comfort of their homes.”

Since the program launched early in December, it has averaged 10-12 patients at any given time, and is currently providing care for 20 COVID positive patients. While the program has successfully achieved its goal of freeing up hospital beds and allowing hospital staff to focus on critically ill patients, the patients in the program are also seeing the benefits.

“When patients are admitted to the hospital, there are restrictions due to the pandemic, especially regarding restricted visitation for COVID positive patients,” Hardin added. “This program is wonderful for our patients because it allows them to remain in their home, surrounded by their loved ones who can care for them and provide the support they need to get better.”

If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, St. Claire HealthCare recommends a virtual appointment with one of its primary care physicians. You can request an appointment by calling 606.784.6641 or online at Existing patients can self-schedule with their primary care provider using St. Claire’s MyHealth Patient Portal.

If you are experiencing more serious symptoms, go to the nearest emergency department so your treatment can be started as soon as possible.