When the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the states earlier this year, OSF HealthCare moved fast to develop a comprehensive approach to respond to the disease without overwhelming facilities or increasing the risk of spread among the public. At the core was the creation of the Pandemic Digital Response Hub within the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center.
Built in three days, the center capitalizes on digital and mobile technologies to answer patient questions about the disease, provide immediate screening and connect individuals to trusted information. In addition, OSF HealthCare worked with the state of Illinois to offer the Pandemic Health Worker (PHW) and Acute COVID@Home programs to safely monitor and care for individuals with the virus at home instead of in a hospital setting.
PHWs digitally support those needing care across the state, using technology to monitor symptoms over a 16-day period. Those with worsening symptoms are referred to Acute COVID@Home, a program where clients receive health equipment that evaluates blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood. Registered nurses and licensed providers oversee their care.
No other health care systems in the nation had done anything exactly like this before, so there was no model to follow. As a result, our Jump education development specialists and other areas of the health care system had six weeks to develop education and training that would ensure clients receive the best care possible without leaving their homes.
The PHW program initially kicked off with four roles:
The interviewer enrolled clients in the PHW program and were tasked with asking about symptoms and determining peoples’ needs. The caller followed up with individuals who reported changes in symptoms over the course of the 16-day program. Fielders made deliveries of health kits to clients’ homes and explained the technology that would be used for ongoing communication. Nurse supervisors got in contact with people whose symptoms were worsening and needed higher levels of care.
Our education team created online teaching for each role, developed simulations and enlisted the help of standardized participants to coach and assess PHW Mission Partners (employees). We had about two weeks to train nearly 200 people on everything from learning how to work in a digital environment and establishing rapport with clients to knowing when to escalate a person’s care to a nurse supervisor.
Immediately before beginning their job, Mission Partners did an additional 45 minutes of review, took part in practice sessions and made sure all of their equipment was ready to go. As a result, PHW staffers were confident and ready to serve on day one.
At the beginning of this pandemic, we heard from many individuals who were scared and very ill. I believe the education and training we provided gave our PHW Mission Partners the opportunity to connect with our clients in a meaningful way and gave them confidence to know they weren’t in this fight alone.
As a result, our PHW and Acute COVID@Home programs have served more than 3300 clients, reducing pressure on our hospitals and the impact of the virus on clients and families. More than that, we’ve been able to offer patients comfort and ensure they get the care they need without leaving their homes.