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Health Team

Duke Health's at-home COVID care seeing positive results

Posted January 29, 2021 5:05 p.m. EST
Updated January 29, 2021 8:37 p.m. EST

— A local hospital system has launched a new COVID-19 treatment program in an effort to keep its facilities from overcrowding.

A new program at Duke University Health System aims to free up some beds in its hospitals by keeping some COVID-19 patients at home. The program is called Enhanced Home Health COVID Care, or EHHCC for short.

“If we can keep one or two beds open for the hospital to use for the more ill patients with COVID, then yeah, it works," Ruth Cornwell, a Duke Health nurse, said in a Zoom interview.

Susan Sellers was the first patient through the program. During the first part of January, she felt like a head cold was coming on. Just to be safe, she got a coronavirus test.

"Sure enough,” Sellers said, “I tested positive.”

She ended up at Duke University Hospital's emergency department when she had trouble breathing and needed oxygen. Before long, a team of experts entered her room with an idea.

“These lovely people came in and said, 'Hey, instead of admitting you to the hospital, would you like to go home?'" Sellers recalled. "I'm like, 'Of course!'”

Cornwell said Sellers was a perfect candidate for in-home treatment. While she needed care, she didn't need full-time attention. Her husband could stay home and help track her progress.

Duke set up monitors and a video link in Seller's home.

“I had certain times during the day where I had to log on, and I had to take my temperature, my blood pressure and my oxygen level,” Sellers said, “So that way, they knew what my vitals were.”

Cornwell said initial results are showing that some patients recover "much better at home.” Sellers is one of them, and she credits Duke's home care system.

“I'm feeling really good,” she cheerfully said.

Right now, there is room for 10 patients in the program. Each patient must have someone with them at home 24 hours a day.

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