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The program has added three physicians, nine total, and three administrative staff and three registered practical nurses since the summer, Devlin said.
LHSC program patients are assessed virtually by the team upon entry into the program and, depending on symptoms or risk factors, are followed up as often as necessary. Some patients with serious problems get a call from the team daily until their condition improves, said Erin Spicer, a general internist and co-founder of the clinic.
Around 60 percent of the program participants receive devices to monitor their blood oxygen levels at home. There is always a doctor on call – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to respond to patient concerns.
“Patients have very different disease courses. They may have primarily respiratory symptoms. Some may have stomach upsets like nausea, ”said Devlin. “What was similar (in many patients) is the fear people feel about the disease.”
If program participants require hospitalization because of their symptoms, the clinic can set up a bed so the patient bypasses the emergency room.
Every participant in the program is reassessed after two months. People with persistent symptoms or problems will be referred for other medical help, said clinic respirologist Michael Nicholson. The clinic will attend to the patients again one year after their diagnosis.
The program has the potential to shorten hospital stays for some COVID-19 patients, Nicholson said. Within a week, six stable patients on oxygen were discharged as the clinic team stepped in to provide them with the support they needed to continue treatment at home.