Home healthcare providers still serving patients, keeping them out of hospitals

Published: Mar. 27, 2020 at 6:32 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Those who provide home healthcare across the Lowcountry say they are helping protect some the people most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

Nurses, therapists, and caregivers provide in-home nursing care for folks who can’t do things like feed, bathe themselves or go to the doctor alone.

In fact, sometimes a caregiver is all they have.

At Intrepid USA Healthcare at Home, nurses, therapists, social workers, and caregivers are seeing patients in person if possible, through windows, over the phone, or video chats. They say they are most commonly using a Telehealth-like system called Tap Cloud, but have also been Facetiming or Skyping patients.

Intrepid's staff says at home visits are critical and common for patients with congestive heart failure, chronic inflammatory lung disease (COPD), and diabetes.

Many of these patients need someone to regularly check-up on them to make sure they are getting lung and heart monitoring done and taking the proper medications.

Intrepid Patient Care Advocate Courtney Pavlovich says the best place to care for a patient is in their home because that is where they are most comfortable.

“Unfortunately they are crowded right now, but your homes not crowded," Pavlovich says. “So that’s the good thing about it. If we’re able to come in there and see you to help monitor and manage your medical condition, keep you from going to the hospital, that’s the best route to go. It’s safer for them.”

In a time of social isolation across the country, local caregivers say even though they may have to practice physical distancing, they are not distancing themselves socially from the people who need them.

Taking care of these patients actually prevents them from being at risk. Going into a hospital right now could put them at an even higher risk of getting COVID-19.

If a patient were to be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have the virus, healthcare officials say they would still see patients, just with personal protection equipment like masks, gloves, and gowns.

Multiple home health facilities say some families have been able to step up in over the past few days because they are off work.

However, for others, a caregiver or nurse is all they have around.

Pavlovich says its not uncommon to see nurses or other staff tending to these patients like family because of the strong relationships they develop.

“I hear at least on a daily basis about a clinician that’s gone and taken a patient food or you know, some of their needs,” Pavlovich said.

Sometimes grocery shopping is a part of a long-term or stay at home caregivers job, but more many it is not.

These home health providers are working normal schedules to ensure the safety of their patients.

They also say technology has made it easier to be able to just call and check in with patients, even a patient no longer under their care.

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