PARIS, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Horizon Health is taking healthcare on the road, providing care for COVID-19 patients in their homes.
The home visits are performed by paramedics at the direction of emergency department physicians. Visits apply specifically to COVID-positive patients who have been seen in the ER.
The home visits are possible through Horizon Health’s Mobile Integrated Healthcare service. The service coordinates care among Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers, the hospital, and a home-visit provider who collectively provide out-of-hospital/clinic care for COVID patients.
“Mobile healthcare provides COVID patients with much-needed medical services during a time when they are sick and unable to leave their homes,” said Samantha McCarty, Horizon Health’s director of Emergency Services.
The service started in late November and has been very successful with more than 30 patients treated so far, McCarty said.
Mobile Integrated Healthcare allows for paramedics to visit patients who are discharged from the emergency department and provide them with regular follow-up visits. A typical visit involves an overall health assessment that includes monitoring body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. A lab-quality blood test can be administered and provides immediate results.
“COVID patients who qualify for at-home visits are given a COVID kit, which contains education materials, a thermometer, a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels, and a tracking log,” McCarty explained.
After returning home from the ER, and in conjunction with paramedic visits, patients participate in a telemedicine visit with their primary healthcare provider. If needed, nurse practitioner Amanda Talamantes can visit the patient. This is an expansion of the care she already provides outside hospital walls through nursing home visits and the recent addition of home visits.
“The goal is to expand mobile healthcare services to include individuals who have chronic and complex medical conditions other than COVID-19,” said Ollie Smith, Horizon Health president & CEO. “This directive was being developed prior to COVID. The pandemic has caused us to expedite those plans beginning with COVID patients.”
Once fully up and running, the program will include people who have hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and congestive heart failure. These patients account for an increasing number of hospital readmissions and calls for emergency assistance.
“Expanding the service will strengthen our existing services by decreasing hospital readmissions, reducing emergency room visits, and reducing time spent coordinating between healthcare teams,” Smith said.
Many patients also face transportation barriers when it comes to attending medical appointments, Smith said. Since this is a home-based service, they will not need to travel for their care.