The COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom over our community. I am sure you have heard that the number of individuals diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus are on the rise. Though this is frightening, it is important to note that many individuals do well, have mild symptoms, and are able to recover independently in the home with primary care physician follow-up. There are some who will develop problems, typically affecting their breathing, that will require close monitoring and treatment that can only be done in a hospital. There are others who have symptoms that can be managed in the home with close follow-up and monitoring by health care professionals. It is the latter group which prompted the development of the COVID-19 U-Turn program.

The COVID-19 U-Turn program is unique to the Rutland community but it is not unique to other areas in the United States. Many health care organizations utilize the “hospital-at-home” model to one degree or another. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC, 2021) such programs help to ensure acute care beds are available for the sickest patients, while allowing folks to recover more quickly in the comfort of their home.

The COVID-19 U-Turn program provides patients and families the care and support they need to ensure a quick and safe recovery at home. There are specific criteria, both clinical and social, which must be met before a patient would be considered appropriate for the program. For example, it is important that the patient have a family member, friend or associate who can provide support and care if needed.

Home care providers, such as the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region (VNAHSR) and BAYADA have been providing home care service to our community for more than 75 years. Both agencies have the knowledge, skill, expertise and tools to ensure patients receive the nursing care required to safely recover.

In collaboration with home care skilled nursing, the patient in the COVID-19 U-Turn program will be afforded additional support services. These additional services include scheduled telehealth medical visits conducted by a hospital medicine specialist and coordinated by Rutland Regional transitional care nursing visits. The patient will be given the tools and education to make sure they are able to be fully engaged in their care. It is imperative that the patient feel comfortable, safe and involved in the shared decision-making process required for a successful transition from hospital to home.

Although the pandemic has been hard for everyone, and at times it is difficult to see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” I do believe our community shines best during difficult times. The coordination and collaboration with those in the Rutland health care community has been phenomenal. Thanks to our Rutland Community Collaborative (RCC) partners, such as the VNAHSR and BAYADA, we can provide this program to meet the growing needs of those affected by the COVID-19 virus.

This week’s Health Talk was written by Kathleen M. Boyd, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CCM, RN-BC, Rutland Regional Medical Center Care Management and Population Health Senior Director.

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