In the ongoing commitment to provide seamless healthcare to the residents of Waterloo Region, it was recently announced that the KW4 OHT (Kitchener, Waterloo, Wilmot, Woolwich, and Wellesley Ontario Health Team) in partnership with Ontario Health-West has launched the COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) program to monitor COVID-19 positive patients in their homes.
The program was initially based on referrals from primary care and has now expanded referral pathways so that Region of Waterloo Public Health and local hospitals can refer any COVID positive patients who wish to be monitored during their recovery. For COVID-positive individuals, self-referral is also now available by calling 1-888-444-8805.
The RPM program is intended to ensure that COVID-positive patients in our community are offered the opportunity to be monitored and supported throughout their journey of recovery. According to Dr. Joseph Lee (photo), this service can really help to reduce patient anxiety. “It's great to offer RPM to people receiving a diagnosis of COVID-19. There can be a lot of anxiety and fear associated with testing positive and having a nurse touch base regularly can help calm a stressful situation for many people” Thus far, the program has received lots of positive feedback from patients and caregivers, noting their gratitude for the support available and the value of the program.
The RPM program will monitor patient symptoms with smart phones or other devices. In the absence of access to a smart device or internet plan, a nurse will call the patient for monitoring assessments. There will be no costs for the patients. Registered Nurses will work with patients to monitor their symptoms and detect any potential health problems earlier, before their condition gets worse.
If a patient’s condition deteriorates, the patient will undergo a more comprehensive phone or a virtual assessment with a nurse or the nurse will consult with their primary care providers about what steps should be taken. At any time, the patient can reach out to the nurse with questions or concerns. Through partnerships with primary care and hospitals within the OHT, steps are being taken to ensure that proper escalation pathways for appropriate clinical care in the community are in place for patients whose conditions deteriorate.
Local physician Dr. Sarah Gimbel sees the benefit of the program in her own patients. “I was happy to hear about this program, and have found that patients who are recovering at home from COVID-19 have been relieved to have the option of having a nurse check-in, monitor their condition, and support them. Having a program like this available is the result of a big collaborative effort and is a good example of the innovative ideas being brought to our community right now.”
KW4 represents Kitchener, Waterloo, and the Townships of Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich. OHTs are being built across the province to provide seamless, fully coordinated care for people in specific geographic communities. The mission of this collaborative includes better outcomes for individuals, improved population health overall and better value for the province’s health care dollars.
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