The recognizable symptoms of COVID-19 suggested Jim Robinson was at risk of a serious fight with the virus. Maybe the fight of his life.
He is 73 years old. He has a heart condition and diabetes. Any one of the three factors – age, a heart condition, diabetes – could place Robinson at a higher risk for complications from the virus.
When he developed a sore throat, he suspected he had COVID-19. The test confirmed Robinson’s suspicions.
His next days and weeks could have taken a serious turn, as they have for patients with similar risk factors.
The positive twists in Robinson’s COVID-19 journey were that his virus symptoms remained manageable and because of that, he was an appropriate candidate for a new Genesis program to keep many COVID-19 positive patients at home to recover.
Support team monitors patients
Genesis COVID Safe at Home, modeled after a program started by University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, provides home care and support for high-risk patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The team of doctors, nurses and support staff use regular contacts, including telemedicine visits via phone and video, as enrolled patients fight the virus safely at home.
Genesis COVID Safe at Home patients receive a package of home monitoring equipment. In the kit are a pulse oximeter and thermometer for self-evaluation.
“I didn’t have to be in the program that long because fortunately my symptoms were mild but there was great comfort knowing I was getting scientific information I had confidence in. There is a lot of information out there that you aren’t sure you can trust,’’ Robinson said.
Robinson no longer needs the program but he continues to use the monitoring equipment.
By intervening early and following up often, Genesis COVID Safe at Home has been able to prevent dozens of emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
Low admission rates
Nearly 1,000 COVID-19 patients have been cared for in the program. Only 10% of the enrolled high-risk patients have required hospitalization. Only 1 percent have required hospitalization in intensive care.
“The major successes have come from routine monitoring,’’ said David Weiser, president of Genesis Health Group. “Many patients have also shared their appreciation of the connection with providers.’’
Every COVID-19 patient who doesn’t require a hospital stay takes pressure off all staff who provide care for hospitalized patients.
The success of Genesis COVID Safe at Home may be a factor in more manageable numbers of hospitalized patients. From highs of 100 or more patients during an especially challenging month of November, recent censuses of COVID-19 patients within Genesis Health System have been in the 30s, 40s and 50s.
“The numbers in emergency departments and rates of admission to the hospital have drastically slowed down partly because of the success of the COVID Safe at Home program,’’ Weiser said.
Barbara Rice of Davenport was enrolled in Genesis COVID Safe at Home following a hospital stay for pneumonia. She also tested positive for COVID.
“It’s been great,’’ Rice said of the Safe at Home program. “I felt like I was going to get better because they were so on top of things. It gave me a lot of confidence.
“I still check myself with the monitoring equipment every morning. They performed miracles as far as I am concerned.’’
Genesis COVID Safe at Home is one of several innovative options available to Genesis COVID-19 patients, including monoclonal antibody infusions and the use of convalescent plasma for hospitalized patients.
The Genesis Foundation provided funding for the monitoring equipment. The Genesis Foundation and Genesis Philanthropy also support a similar home-based monitoring program for new mothers and newborns.
For more information about COVID-19 care at Genesis, including the Genesis COVID Safe at Home program, go to https://www.genesishealth.com/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19.
Craig Cooper is senior communications specialist for Genesis Health System.