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In-Home Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 20, 2020

Laurie St. John, vice president of Hartford HealthCare at Home  talks about providing in-home care during the COVID-19 pandemic in a March 19 visit with WTNH, Channel 8.

Q: Tell us what type of precautions are being put in place?
A: Well, Hartford Healthcare at Home has been keeping patients safely in their home for 119 years. So COVID-19 has created some challenges for us. The way we’re supporting our patients and our staff is by reinforcing and educating on how they can protect themselves.

For instance, hand-washing is the first line of defense for keeping yourself safe. I know there is a shortage of hand sanitizer but washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds can be just as effective on some of the other things that we’re doing. We are really enforcing social isolation.

We’re asking the patients that we see in the home to restrict their visitors. We are only sending essential staff in to see those patients. We’re using telehealth. We have some telehealth right now. We’re expanding those capabilities. We are screening all of our staff that go into the home as well as the patients and their families in the home.

So we are doing all of those measures to keep patients families and our staff safe.

Q: Can you offer some advice to families who are going through this time and they can’t see their loved ones?
A: Well, I think that a lot of people are going online. I think Facebook or Skype is a good way.

I know, like a lot of people, I haven’t been able to see my grandchildren. That’s hard, but I feel I can keep connected with them through Skype and Facebook. So I would encourage that. I think this is a hard time. I think that people probably are feeling very isolated, so I encourage them to do things like that and we are paying attention to with our patients in their home.

Q: Are they having some behavioral health issues? Should we get behavioral health involved with those patients?
A: The best advice is to stay home, limit your visitors, practice hand-washing. And we have to remember that 80 percent of the people who do come in contact with this virus will get better.

They’ll have almost no symptoms to flu-like symptoms. So I think we have to keep that in perspective.

Q: Talk to us again about how the staff that is going into these homes, how they’re protected and they’re staying healthy.
A: Well, one of the most important things I think we’re doing is letting staff and patients know that at Hartford HealthCare, we have your back. We are going to keep you safe as safe as we can with any means that we can.

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Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

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