New COVID-19 care model to keep vulnerable patients out of hospital

·2 min read

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Niagara Health are introducing a home-care model to help keep vulnerable COVID-19 patients out of hospital.

Through COVID Care @ Home, eligible patients can receive 24-7 access to virtual and home care in both home and congregate living settings after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“People who don’t need to be in the hospital anymore but still need COVID care will be able to get that care,” said Patrick Moore, senior public affairs specialist at St. Joseph’s Health System.

Launched on Nov. 12, the program targets patients at risk of hospitalization based on factors such as age, underlying health problems, and social isolation. Health-care providers determine who’s eligible and enrol patients at the time of their COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients can also be referred from the community.

While the focus is on older adults, there’s no age cut-off for eligibility, said Carolyn Gosse, president of St. Joseph’s Home Care and VP of integrated care at St Joseph’s Health System. So far, three patients are enrolled at Niagara Health.

Gosse noted the program builds on the existing integrated comprehensive care program at St. Joseph’s which connects patients who’ve had surgeries to home care and 24-7 access to a doctor.

She said that previously, vulnerable COVID-19 patients would be connected with public health and could follow up with their family doctor if needed. Through this program, the health-care team will still be working with public health and family doctors, but will also offer round-the-clock support to answer questions and give medical advice on the phone or through home visits.

The team can also connect patients to community resources, such as for groceries.

Gosse said they’ve planned to accommodate 1,000 patients in the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant and Waterloo Wellington LHINs over a year through the program, but can expand their team depending on demand.

The program is intended to allow patients to be discharged from hospital sooner and prevent future hospitalization, which will in turn relieve demand on hospitals. Another goal is to prevent outbreaks by improving infection prevention and control and providing coaching to community living settings.

Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator