A COVID-19 diagnosis can be scary and bring about a lot of uncertainty. The thought of hospital admissions and symptom changes can be daunting. For many, being able to stay home while they are sick is one of the few comforts during an uncomfortable time – and the same applies for COVID-19 patients.
To help support patients recovering from COVID-19 at home, Southlake Regional Health Centre launched the COVID@Home program in collaboration with the Southlake Community Ontario Health Team (OHT) based on existing models developed by other health care providers. COVID@Home is a remote monitoring program that is connecting patients to doctors and nurses, from the comfort of their home.
COVID@Home helps patients monitor their recovery using their smartphone or tablet by participating in daily remote monitoring which consists of identifying and recording symptoms, monitoring any changes, and keeping track of their recovery. The program also offers a two-way connection between patients and health care providers.
Patients can connect with a nurse or physician in real time to answer questions they have, while physicians and nurses simultaneously monitor the patients’ progress and status and adjust the patients’ care plans as needed for the patient’s recovery.
For Walter, this connection made all the difference.
Walter, a 40-year-old construction worker, enrolled in the COVID@Home program through his family physician after receiving a positive diagnosis.
“When I first got my diagnosis, my family physician recommended I enroll in the program, as my symptoms weren’t too severe and I could recover at home,” Walter recalls. “I was using the program for a few days when I noticed that my breathing was starting to become irregular and shortened and immediately logged the changes into the COVID@Home program.”
Thankfully for Walter, having this direct connection to the physicians and nurses allowed them to contact him to discuss his symptoms change.
“Within the hour, I had talked to a physician and had a prescription sent to my pharmacy. If I were not in the program, I would have had to go to the emergency department for care. Being part of COVID@Home made my entire recovery so much easier. The nurses and physicians were always there to touch base – if something didn’t seem right, they were calling and checking proactively, I didn’t have to do anything.”
Since its inception, the Southlake Community OHT-run program has helped close to 87 people in their COVID-19 recovery. In a recent survey of 29 program participants ranging in age from 18 to 75, more than 85 per cent were satisfied with the program and would recommend it to their family and friends.
“This program really is about providing the same quality level of care to our patients, without them having to leave their home,” notes Dr. David Makary, Chief, Department of Family and Community Medicine at Southlake and Primary Care Lead, Southlake Community OHT. “Being able to stay out of the hospital while recovering from COVID-19 provides patients with a sense of comfort, and knowing they have the nurses and physicians available for them when they need helps remove the stress from their recovery.”
The COVID@Home program continues to support patients and the community throughout their recovery, and the Southlake Community OHT will continue to support the residents of Northern York Region and Southern Simcoe County through ongoing health care initiatives.
About the Southlake Community OHT
The Southlake Community Ontario Health Team (SCOHT) is a partnership of health care organizations providing a wide range of high-quality health care services to the residents of northern York Region and southern Simcoe County. The SCOHT will bring connected care to the communities we serve, by working closely together to improve access to health care and reduce gaps in the health care system.
The partners that make up the SCOHT are the Aurora-Newmarket Family Health Team, Bayshore HealthCare, Canadian Mental Health Association York and South Simcoe, CHATS – Community & Home Assistance to Seniors, Enhanced Care, Extendicare, Georgina Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic, LOFT Community Services, SE Health, Southlake Academic Family Health Team, Southlake Regional Health Centre, The Regional Municipality of York and over 140 local family physicians.
To learn more about the Southlake Community OHT, visit www.southlakecommunityoht.ca.