OSF HealthCare Deploys Pandemic Health Workers to Rockford to Care for COVID-19, Other Patients at Home

4/16/2020 - Rockford, Illinois

While all but essential workers are being asked to stay at home to contain the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) OSF HealthCare is expanding its digital response strategy to offer care to patients without the need to leave home.

Pandemic Health Workers (PHWs) will digitally connect with referred clients who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need to stay home or in quarantine to protect themselves and others. Through this program, OSF HealthCare and the State of Illinois will proactively and digitally support those needing care, while also reducing the potential influx of patients into a hospital’s emergency department when they don’t need emergency care.

OSF HealthCare Saint Gabriel Digital Health has initiated the Pandemic Health Worker (PHW) and its Acute COVID@Home program in the Rockford area.

“The PHW program will allow us to fulfill our Mission of serving with the greatest care and love, utilizing digital technology and trained compassionate and trusted community members to extend expert treatment and support to individuals where they are most comfortable, in their own homes, said OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center President Paula Carynski. “PHWs will monitor individuals daily and they will also assess other social supports that might be needed such as food, financial support, counseling and access to behavioral health tools such as OSF SilverCloud.”

PHWs can assist those who are not tech savvy to help them download programs and understand how to work iPads that will be provided if there is no similar technology already in the household. Individuals will be followed for 14 days. PHWs can be assigned up to 27 clients per month.

If symptoms worsen, the PHW will refer their care recipients to the Acute COVID@Home program where supervision could increase to eventually include advanced practice provider and physician level care. Those individuals will be treated and observed using telehealth technology three times a day until they are better. If their condition continues to decline, they will be referred to the hospital.

These new solutions will help us care for individuals where they are, prevent the overcrowding of our sites with COVID-19 patients, and protect access to quality health care for all.

“I am so proud OSF HealthCare is leading the way with digital solutions now and for the future to allow us to care for individuals where they are, preventing the overcrowding of OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center,” added hospital President Paula Carynski. “We are protecting our communities, our Mission Partners (employees) and those we care for with these innovative approaches that allow us to contribute significantly to efforts to flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19.”

Through its PHWs, OSF HealthCare is expected to initially serve 8,400 people each month in communities served by the health system. If you suspect you have novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is not an emergency, please use our chatbot, Clare, on our website.