Mercy offering at-home COVID care in effort to free up hospital beds


ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — In an effort to free up beds as hospitalizations continue to rise throughout the Natural State, Mercy announced on Wednesday that it will tap into its virtual system to begin caring for select COVID-19 patients at home.

Mercy COVID Care @ Home will offer remote, in-home care for “patients with mild symptoms who may need low-flow rates of oxygen, offering virtual home monitoring in real time,” according to a release from the hospital on Wednesday.

“We have learned that not all patients who were admitted at the onset of COVID-19 need to be hospitalized,” said Dr. Carter Fenton, medical director of Mercy Virtual vAcute. “By caring for select patients at home, with ongoing monitoring and management, we can reserve the hospital beds for those with more serious disease symptoms.”

The 24-hour care will include measurement of oxygen saturation by pulse oximetry, adjusting oxygen flow as necessary, along with additional evaluations and appropriate interventions, according to the hospital on Wednesday.

If the patient’s status changes or worsens, they will be evaluated by the Mercy Virtual team and “directed to the most appropriate level of care” — from an in-home visit to an evaluation in one of the outpatient clinic offerings or the hospital setting.

Mercy says it worked with Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider, to learn from its experience setting up a similar program during the first surge of the pandemic in spring.

According to the hospital, Mercy’s virtual care team has cared for chronically ill patients since 2015.

“We’re able to take our five years of experience in providing virtual, in-home care and translate it into caring for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Gavin Helton, Mercy Virtual president. “We hope by caring for certain COVID-19 patients in their homes, it will make them more comfortable and still connected to care, while lightening the load on hospital caregivers and in-patient resources.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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