Care kits aid COVID-19 patients recovering at home

April 08, 2020
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DETROIT - With many patients showing up at Henry Ford Health System’s emergency rooms with symptoms of COVID-19 or testing positive for the virus and being sent home to recover, healthcare workers realized they needed a way to provide care, comfort and guidance to those patients while focusing on the critically-ill ones.

That need resulted in the Henry Ford Innovation Institute creating CovidCare kits, which are now rolling out to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital and Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township. They are being assembled as quickly as possible and handed out to patients as they head home. Most people with COVID-19 will get better. For those likely to weather the virus, convalescing at home is a necessity as hospital emergency departments and ICUs reach capacity.

Some of the supplies inside the kits were donated by the Detroit Pistons and wellness products manufacturer, HoMedics. Today and in the days ahead the kits are being prepared by team members at the Innovation Institute, which has responded to the pandemic with an array of solutions that aim to improve patient care and experience and support healthcare workers, including one of the most pressing issues of the moment: sourcing much-needed, critical medical supplies.

CovidCare Kits include:

  • A pulse oximeter, a simple device provided through support from HoMedics. A pulse oximeter measures pulse rate and amount of oxygen in blood. Rapid pulse and low blood oxygen are signs of respiratory distress.
  • Gatorade. Its electrolytes treat the dehydration that can accompany COVID-19.
  • Hand sanitizer contributed by the Detroit Pistons
  • Face masks to protect others from infection
  • A symptoms log, warning signs list and number to call for if warnings signs appear

The kits and instructions are an ideal companion to virtual care at Henry Ford, a service with increasing demand as patients isolate or quarantine at home and the community abides by life-saving social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

“We’re really fortunate to have developed our telemedicine program prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows our caregivers to interact with higher-risk patients outside of a hospital setting,” said Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., CEO of the Henry Ford Innovation Institute.

Dr. Dulchavsky leads the innovations team that has a history of finding solutions, from as simple and useful as a front-opening patient gown to high-tech surgical tools such as 3-D printer that produces heart valves, joints and assists in other surgeries. Altogether, the work contributes to transforming patient care and healthcare delivery. The institute’s philosophy is to nurture and solicit ingenuity and outside-the-box thinking.

As the pandemic has taken hold and sapped medical supplies, the institute has moved to near round-the-clock response to address and prevent shortages. Each day, the innovation team sweats it out to find supplies and celebrates deliveries like 3,000 isolation gowns recently. All supplies and materials to make supplies meet maximum infection control and patient and employee safety standards.

“We’ve moved from a heavy focus on technology and our project work to sourcing and tapping into external relationships,” said Lisa Prasad, senior advisor at the institute. “We’ve had various levels of success with sourcing supplies from factories around Detroit, small businesses in Hamtramck, larger manufacturers.”

That might be sourcing blue surgical cloth to use for masks or building intubation shields from plexiglass boxes and a range of supplies that come from the team’s work.

Other COVID-19 projects at the institute include:

  • Manufacturing face shields
  • Operating a surgical mask makerspace
  • Providing thermal camera for temperature detection of employees
  • Assisting with UV sterilization of N95 masks for re-use
  • Connecting a pop-up radio station for emergency broadcasting on the campus

“It’s remarkable to see a shipment come in or pieces come together to build those supplies. It’s something to celebrate because we know how needed it is, but then it’s back to the next need, the next problem to solve, the next solution to find,” Prasad said. “It might be the COVIDCare kits that can provide patients care at home and peace of mind or it might be landing thousands of masks and shields so that front line workers can continue to care for patients with confidence.”

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kim North Shine / knorth1@hfhs.org / 313-549-4995