Availability of accessible, remote care during the pandemic has been key to decreasing emergency department visits, safeguarding healthcare resources and lessening the spread of COVID-19. As COVID-19 admissions increased in the winter of 2021, Samaritan Medical Center created a program to manage patient flow and ensure timely treatment for patients who did not need acute care services.
Due to an influx of COVID-19 patients being admitted because they either did not have a primary care physician or could not get a timely follow-up appointment, SMC was at risk of running out of acute care beds. To facilitate safe discharges, staff created an outpatient management program for mild to at-risk COVID-19 patients.
Eligible patients received a telemedicine appointment with a Samaritan primary care doctor — typically with a Graduate Medical Education resident — and a Samaritan Home Health referral. An on-call nurse was available by phone for questions and could obtain a same-day appointment or refer the patient back to the ED if necessary. Each patient received a pulse oximeter and was trained to call if there was any change in their clinical condition.
The hospital referred 32 patients to the discharge program. Only 2.6% of enrolled patients were ever admitted. Among those patients, there were only two readmissions (6%). The program allowed SMC to continue to provide acute services to the community during the pandemic’s peak.
For more information, contact Mario Victoria, MD, chief medical officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315.778.5164.