OSF HealthCare deploys pandemic health workers to Bloomington-Normal to care for COVID-19, other patients at home

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) ─ 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 Bloomington/Normal.

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 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.

“The PHW program will allow us to fulfill our Mission of serving with the greatest care and love, using digital technology and trained compassionate and trusted pandemic health workers to offer support to individuals where they are most comfortable, in their own homes,” said Lynn Fulton, president of OSF HealthCare St. Joseph 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 they are 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.

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 if symptoms worsen. 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.

“I am so proud OSF HealthCare is leading the way with digital solutions to allow us to care for individuals where they are, many times preventing them from having to travel to seek care,” Fulton said. “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, when they are in place in all communities served by the health system.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker first announced the initiative on Saturday.

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