COVID-19 Patients at Home

Cathy Stern, MSOL, RN
Manager, Clinical and Operational Improvement

I think it’s fair to say this year has been the most uncertain time, related to our collective health, that we have ever faced. Our view on how we stay safe, how we keep our loved ones safe, and how we continue to live our lives, has changed. The challenges are almost too many to list: school, childcare, caring for aging family members, loss of income, and what feels like a general loss of control over our lives.

During the past several months, we have talked about the continued support our teams need to weather this, seemingly, never-ending storm. As you know, support comes in many forms. It is important to have the right equipment and supplies available, ready to use at any time. Just as important, as we are faced with a constant barrage of critically ill patients and the enormity of loss to COVID-19, is the support of staff in encouraging them to share feelings and concerns.

Collectively, we are here to meet the needs of the communities we serve. We engage in the work of developing a community health needs assessment to guide us as we develop strategic plans for our hospitals, and prioritize to meet our communities’ needs. For a moment, let’s think about the patients and families who are enduring COVID-19 at home. The question becomes—how can we support those in our communities who are COVID-19 positive and do not require hospitalization?

Here are a few example questions for your organization to review:

  • Is there a helpline that homebound patients, or their family members, can call for guidance related to symptomology?
    • If not a hospital call center, is there a county or state call center?
    • Is the information posted on the hospital’s website?
    • Are patients who are treated in the ED and released home provided the information?
  • Is there a helpline that homebound patients, or their family members, can call for emotional support?
    • Is the information posted on the hospital’s website?
    • Are patients who are treated in the ED and released to home provided the information?
  • If the patient lives alone, how are they connected in terms of follow-up and/or meals? Are there community resources that could be shared?

Think about how overwhelming it might be for people who receive a positive test result and do not have a healthcare background. They likely have many questions, as much is still unknown. Use this list of questions as a starting place to think through additional ways your organization can provide support to COVID-19 patients at home.