WellStar Home Care program begins to see COVID-19 patients

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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WellStar West Georgia Home Care has been providing local patients with treatment from home after leaving the hospital for more than 30 years, but now their focus has shifted to COVID-19 homecare.

According to Home Care Nurse Supervisor Gail Stephen, they only have one coronavirus patient right now using Home Care, but they expect more to start using it.

“We have others that chose not to use the service,” Stephen said. “I think it’s been just a little bit of a more traumatic experience for them.”

Stephens said she reached out to each confirmed coronavirus patient from WellStar and has gotten positive feedback.

“Some of them have sounded so wonderful over the phone,” Stephen said. “When I’ve spoken to them, they have said they are feeling great and feel fortunate. They are fortunate, and that’s such a blessing.”

The home health program offers physical therapy, occupational therapy, home health aides, social workers and more.

“Medicare pays for it 100 percent, if there’s a clinical need and the patient is considered homebound,” said Account Executive Josh O’Neal. “It’s more about patients not being able to go out in the community easily.”

O’Neal said that they provide the services through Telehealth that gives patients a weight scale, a blood pressure monitoring system and a machine that can check oxygen saturation.

“What I do with the coronavirus patient is a virtual visit with the patient,” Stephen said. “I have them show me their medications through the video camera. I have them walk toward me in the video camera, so I see how they are ambulating. I also time how long I speak to them, to see if they sound short of breath during that time.”

Stephen said they will keep coronavirus patients on telehealth for 14 days to monitor them.

“We are starting to roll out the program a little bit more now,” Stephen said. “It is going to be beneficial for them, and they will even be able to continue with us after their symptoms are gone. We think we can continue long-term.”

Typically, the health care program has seen patients that have chronic conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, a respiratory condition and more.

O’Neal said that having the COVID-19 patients using Telehealth prevents more exposure to nurses and doctors.

“Instead of us going out to that patient’s house, we’re able to do their temperature and other testing via Telehealth,” O’Neal said. “The results are seen by a nurse in our office, which helps us take the preventive measures of it being spread more.”