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Remote Monitoring Program Provides Safety Net for COVID-19 Patients

Randolph Anderson recovered from COVID-19 at home while being monitored by a remote care team from the Medical University of South Carolina's Center for Telehealth.
SCETV
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Randolph Anderson recovered from COVID-19 at home while being monitored by a remote care team from the Medical University of South Carolina's Center for Telehealth.

Even as more people get their shot, South Carolina reports hundreds of new coronavirus cases every day. Many of those stricken by the virus receive medical care through remote patient monitoring.

More than half of all American adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In South Carolina, about 40 percent of adults have received at least one dose.

Even as more people get their shot, South Carolina reports hundreds of new coronavirus cases every day. Many of those stricken by the virus receive medical care through remote patient monitoring.

“Basically remote patient monitoring is monitoring a patient where they live and looking at signs and symptoms for disease, a change in their condition,” said David Wheeler, telehealth patient and provider experience coordinator at the MUSC Center for Telehealth.

Wheeler said monitoring patients from their home keeps hospital systems from becoming overwhelmed.

“Essentially we have created 1,000 observational beds without laying a brick,” Wheeler said.

Telehealth nurses call patients when they test positive for COVID-19. Then they begin tracking symptoms. Through daily phone calls and a virtual platform, nurses guide patients through their recovery.

Randolph Anderson, a recreation supervisor in Lexington, South Carolina, came down with COVID-19 last year. He said his remote care nurse was easy to talk to.

“It kind of took the boogie man out of it because they did a very good job with giving you quality information and being accessible,” Anderson said.

He said that personal connection helped.

“From my community - African-American community - we do have an issue with trust in healthcare,” Anderson said. “More people shy away from being tested or shy away from different things because they don’t have a trust in healthcare. Because it’s not a personalized deal. But getting a phone call from someone and just speaking to that same person; you build a relationship.

According to Wheeler, those types of relationships are empowering for patients.

“There’s a partnership that develops, a partnership in care, which is essential,” Wheeler said. “People who participate with their caregiver have better outcomes. So this gives one a sense of participation and a trusted partnership.”

Another patient, Felix Fredrick, of Mullins, said the nurses helped him through the worst part of his illness.

“They reassured me; we are going to take it one day at a time, everything is going to be OK,” Frederick said.

The experience also changed Fredrick’s perspective on telehealth.

“They instilled something in me, you know that I can trust a little bit more the virtual care,” Frederick said. “It made me feel real well knowing that even though I didn’t see them personally, it seemed like they had my best interests at heart.”