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UIHC: Virtual care is helping maintain bed capacity

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics said they’re maintaining their bed capacity by taking care of many COVID patients at home.
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 7:01 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWQC) - The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics said they’re maintaining their bed capacity by taking care of many COVID patients at home.

Their virtual hospital program called Home Treatment Team, HTT, provides direct daily care and support for non-hospitalized COVID patients. The patients receive a vital monitoring kit and have daily virtual visits with their providers.

“Virtual care helps most patients recover in the comfort of their home. Close monitoring means patients who need extra assistance can rapidly get to the hospital or emergency room,” said Dr. Andy Bryant, the Medical Director of HTT at UIHC. “We give them the tools to be able to monitor their symptoms at home themselves as well and so they know what is worrisome, when to call, what’s an ok blood pressure.”

According to Bryant, the patients with lower risk are in the same program but via other providers. Initially, they started taking care of all COVID patients and as the numbers rose, the program at the hospital turned to solely patients with the highest risk of medical problems.

“Our goal with those patients is to be able to identify those that are doing poorly quick and be able to get them into the hospital sooner and then also be able to take care of them at home if they’re doing okay,” he said.

Bryant said preventing unnecessary hospitalizations through the program is something that they’re proud of and hospitalizations for those in the higher risk category were less than 9%.

“We know that we’re doing a good job keeping patients out of the hospital so that way the patients in the hospital, we have the beds. We can care for those that are critically ill.”

As for patients, Bryant said they seem to enjoy what the program offers.

“They feel...this disease, that’s shrouded in lots of uncertainty, that that they have some medical experts that are there, that are keeping an eye on them, giving them the information, the tools to be able to fight this,” he said, “I think they like being heard and having someone that’s actually able to check in on them...and so being able to be that steady-state in our patients and call them and check in on them and have them feel that someone’s actually watching them I think has made all the difference.”

Dr. Bryant said they’ve reached out to other institutions across Iowa about the model and said others have started similar programs.

In the Quad Cities area, both Unity Point and Genesis Health Systems offer similar or other virtual care options.

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