Pritzker announces new local virus hotlines as nearly 1,300 more COVID-19 cases reported

State News

CHICAGO (WMBD) — Gov. J.B Pritzker said there was a 1,293-person increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Illinois.

The governor, along with the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Saturday that there are now 19,180 positive cases statewide. Additionally, the death toll is now at 677, an 81-person increase since Friday.

Expanding on efforts to protect the physical and mental health of Illinois communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pritzker also announced the launch of a new Remote Patient Monitoring Program and mental health support line.

“We are living in a deeply unprecedented moment, and holding the emotional ramifications of that inside will only be harder on you. Please know that you don’t have to feel it all alone,” he said. “My administration is here to serve you and help see you through this time of crisis – I want you to know that we’re here to help.”

Illinois launched the new program utilizing Telehealth Services and Pandemic Health Worker (PHW) Programs in partnership with OSF HealthCare and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Leaders said the program will reduce barriers to health and mental health services to support residents across Illinois with a focus on underserved communities and those at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The OSF PHW teams are serving East Central and North Central Illinois communities include Peoria/Bloomington, Champaign/Urbana, Evergreen Park, Danville, Galesburg, Kewanee, Monmouth, Ottawa, Mendota, Streator, Pontiac, and Rockford. The OSF Hotline number is (833) 673-5669 and is available now.

Teams of PHWs will be stationed throughout Illinois with the first groups established in Peoria/Bloomington, Alton, and Evergreen Park.

“The PHW program is an extension of OSF Healthcare System’s role in providing compassion and competence in a healthcare crisis,” said John Vozenilek, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Innovation and Digital Health for OSF HealthCare. “Equipped with technology, PHWs will visit care recipients on a daily basis, deliver kits that include essential tools to monitor their health, and follow-up over a 14-day period to ensure no further assistance is needed.”

When assigned to the PHWP, a client will receive health monitoring tools, depending on what already is available in the home, and will typically stay in the program for 14 days. A PHW will be connecting with at least 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, the nurse or other provider will determine if they are eligible for the PHWP. If enrolled, the client will be notified and receive a phone call from a PHW within 48 hours.

The PHWP is one of many programs created by OSF HealthCare to manage COVID-19 patients. The healthcare Ministry has also integrated an AI symptom checker into its website’s digital assistant, a chatbot named Clare. A 24/7 nurse triage line at 833-OSF KNOW (833-673-5669) fields calls from across Illinois about the virus, and a free text messaging tool called OSF COVID Companion pushes guidance about COVID-19. A video visit option is available as well.

More information can be found at www.osfhealthcare.org.

More than 92,000 people have been tested for the virus statewide. The age of cases ranges from younger than 1 to older than 100 years across 86 counties.  

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