Sanford Health has a new way for patients who test positive for COVID-19 to manage their symptoms at home.
Through the COVID home monitoring program, health care professionals will be able to keep close tabs on patients while they recover at home, said Khalin Dendy, M.D.
Dr. Dendy is an internal medicine physician and medical director of informatics for Sanford Health’s Bismarck, North Dakota, region.
How the program works
“We enroll the patients at the time of their COVID-19 diagnosis, and they get My Chart messages that are sent to them on a daily basis, asking questions such as, ‘What is your oxygen level?’ or, ‘What’s your temperature?'” Dr. Dendy said.
If patients don’t have access to a variety of recovery devices, such as a thermometer or oxygen saturation monitors, Sanford Health will provide them, Dr. Dendy said.
A pool of nurses will monitor patients for up to two weeks.
“We’ll ask some other basic questions about how they’re feeling and their symptoms based on the responses to those questions,” Dr. Dendy said.
“If everything looks good, we just check in with them again the next day, and follow them out to 14 days. But if any of the responses look concerning that their condition may be worsening, then we get the patient on the phone. And we may even bring in a physician to discuss this with and make a decision on whether the patient needs to come into the hospital or not,” he added.
How patients are enrolled
Dr. Dendy says patients may be enrolled in the home monitoring program in two ways.
“One is if a patient is the hospital and has tested positive for COVID but no longer needs to be in the hospital, but we believe still has some risk of worsening symptoms. The other way is if they test positive, and they’re enrolled by the clinic that does the COVID test for them,” he said.
“After they are enrolled in this, a nurse contacts them by phone to help explain the program and talk about checking their oxygen level and temperature daily, and inputting information into My Chart that then will feed back to the nursing pool.”
Meeting a need
Dr. Dendy says this program is vital, because the majority of COVID-19-positive patients will recuperate at home.
“Eighty percent of patients that are infected with COVID-19 will do just fine managing their symptoms at home” he said. “We know that about 20% of patients are going to get sick enough that they are going to need to go into the hospital to receive care.”
Social distancing is the No. 1 way to protect yourself from the virus, Dr. Dendy says. And after testing positive for COVID-19, social distancing becomes even more imperative.
“We recommend trying to prevent the spread of coronavirus as much as possible by keeping themselves distanced from others, and if they have to go out, wear a cloth face mask and stay more than 6 feet away from others.”
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