During January and February, Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization’s (FDRHPO) telehealth network procured and distributed 465 pulse oximeters to several of its healthcare partners throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
The provision of these oximeters enables partners to implement borrowing programs for high-risk patients with COVID-19 or other illness or chronic disease that results in respiratory illness. Along with the oximeters, FDRHPO provided instructions for patients about how to utilize the devices, a tracking log (patients should take reading at least one in the morning and once at night), and directions about what to do if oxygen levels are at or below 90 for more than an hour.
Samaritan Medical Center has had a similar program in place, which has been well-received by patients. “We are very pleased to support our partners’ efforts with COVID by making these pulse oximeters available to them and, thereby, to their patients,” explains Erika Flint, FDRHPO Executive Director. “Now, even more healthcare providers across the tri-county region can give their patients the ability to monitor at home with the hope of empowering them to seek care at the right time and the right place.”
Participating organizations include:
Carthage Area Hospital
Claxton Hepburn Medical Center
Complete Family Care and Laser Center
Dr. Nancy Girard
Jefferson County Public Health Home Care Agency
Lewis County General Hospital
Lowville Medical Associates
North Country Family Health Center
Ogdensburg Family Practice
Samaritan Medical Center
Here are some examples of how the oximeters will be used and how beneficial they are to patients:
“We are pleased to have the access and availability to immediately provide the pulse oximeters to patients at the time of a positive COVID test result. Our patients would otherwise have to find someone to go the store to purchase one for them. I also was able to give the patients instructions during the office visit.” ~ Zachary Mashaw, MD, Ogdensburg Family Practice
“It is nice to be able to distribute these to our community members in need during their highly communicable illness.
The ability to monitor readings is key in tracking the severity of their illness and in the decision-making of the physicians and advanced practice providers who follow the patient’s progress outside the emergency department.” ~ Maja Lundborg-Gray, MD, Emergency Medicine, Samaritan Medical Center
“We will be distributing the oximeters to our home care patients who have a diagnosis of COVID, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or pneumonia. The JCPHS clinical staff also can provide one-on-one education about how to monitor and when to notify either us or their healthcare provider.” ~ Lisa Cooley, Jefferson County Public Health Home Care Agency
“We are so appreciative of the providers in our region who have served tirelessly and valiantly on the frontlines of this pandemic, and we are happy to support their efforts in any way we can,” concludes Mrs. Flint. “As North Country COVID numbers continue to improve, these devices will remain a valuable and beneficial tool for providers and their patients with other respiratory illnesses.”