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

4/14/2020 - Galesburg, 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 enable clients invited into the program 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 in collaboration with OSF Innovation has initiated the Pandemic Health Worker (PHW) and its Acute COVID@Home program in the Western Region.

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 pandemic health workers to support individuals where they are most comfortable, in their own homes, said Lisa DeKezel, President of OSF HealthCare St. Mary Medical Center. “PHWs will monitor individuals daily and they will also assess other social supports that might be needed and provide 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.

A person is eligible for the PHWP if he or she is showing COVID-19 symptoms, or is at high risk for contracting the virus, but does not require emergency or inpatient care, and can be digitally monitored at home. They must first call the COVID-19 Nurse Hotline (833-OSF-KNOW) and be digitally triaged by a nurse. Depending on the answers to the screening questions, they will be invited to the Pandemic Health Worker Program. If enrolled, the client will be notified and receive a phone call from a PHW within 24 hours.

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 until they are better. If their condition continues to decline, they will be referred to a designated facility.

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 to allow us to care for individuals where they are, preventing the overcrowding of OSF HealthCare,” said Jackie Kernan, President of OSF HealthCare Holy Family and OSF HealthCare Saint Luke. “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.”

OSF HealthCare is expected to initially serve 8,400 people each month through its PHWs once they are in place in all communities served by the health system.

# # #

About OSF HealthCare
OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare employs more than 23,600 Mission Partners in 147 locations, including 14 hospitals – 10 acute care, four critical access – with 2,097 licensed beds, and two colleges of nursing throughout Illinois and Michigan. The OSF HealthCare physician network employs more than 1,500 primary care, specialists and advanced practice providers. OSF HealthCare, through OSF Home Care Services, operates an extensive network of home health and hospice services. It also owns Pointcore Inc., comprised of health care-related businesses; OSF HealthCare Foundation, the philanthropic arm for the organization; and OSF Ventures, which provides investment capital for promising health care innovation startups. More at www.osfhealthcare.org



Amber Wood
Community Relations Coordinator
(309) 734-1605
Carrie McCance
Public Relations & Communications Coordinator
(309) 344-3161 x61102