Apr 13, 2020

COVID-19 Follow-Up Calls Providing Needed Connection

COVID-19 Registry staff wearing masks, working in office.

For patients who are awaiting COVID-19 test results, that wait can be an anxious time.

The Columbus Regional Health COVID-19 Follow-up Registry staff is helping to reduce some of that anxiety by calling patients every 48 hours.

Implementing the registry has allowed for staff to reach out to patients to answer questions, help alleviate concerns, and also reduce unnecessary visits to the Emergency Room or our Respiratory Clinics.

As the spread of COVID-19 has progressed quickly, the COVID Registry was quickly set up in March.

When the registry began, test results were sometimes taking more than 10 days to receive, which left patients feeling anxious, not knowing if they should continue to remain in isolation or what to do if their symptoms would worsen.

With the implementation of the registry, following a COVID-19 test at the hospital or the Respiratory Clinics, patients are automatically placed on the negative/suspected COVID-19 registry. 

If the result is positive, the patient will move to the positive COVID-19 registry. 

Physicians can also manually add any patient to the registry they feel needs to be monitored based on symptoms even without being tested.

The staff calls patients every 48 hours (excluding weekends) as long as symptoms are present. 

Patients are screened to ensure symptoms haven’t worsened or if they need re-evaluation.

If symptoms continue or worsen, the team directs patients to either the Respiratory Clinics or the COVID Triage Resource Center phone line.

Once symptoms resolve, the patient is removed from the registry.

The COVID-19 Follow-Up Registry has been well received by patients. 

“The COVID-19 follow-up project is making a huge difference in our communities’ lives by giving them the support, resources, and education they need to overcome this virus,” said Southern Indiana Nephrology and Hypertension Practice Manager Rhonda Mellencamp.

“Patients are very grateful we are calling to check on them.”

The registry also provides a human connection that is often needed during this uncertain time.

“Our staff makes a connection with these patients who are isolating in their homes and often away from family.

They establish a relationship during the time the patients are followed,” said Primary Care Director Jeryll Macdonald. 

In addition to checking to see if patients’ symptoms are improving or redirecting them to receive additional treatment if their symptoms worsen, the staff provides education so patients know what to expect and that they are following CDC guidelines for isolation. 

“We hope this education is helping patients stay isolated and not continue to spread the virus,” added Rhonda.

The follow-up line is staffed by medical assistants from Southern Indiana Nephrology and Hypertension and Columbus Pediatrics, two Columbus Regional Health Physician practices.

On average, the team makes 100 calls per day.

All of the calls are documented in the MyChart electronic medical record for continuity of care for the patient, and any patient tested at CRH receives follow-up from the registry staff.

If a patient was tested somewhere else and is following up with a Columbus Regional Health Physician practice or the hospital, the provider can manually add them to the registry for follow-up based on symptoms.

“We sincerely hope that this service assists in giving these patients a sense of security,” said Jeryll.   

Employee Relief Fund

Hands clasped together to form shape of a heart.

Columbus Regional Health appreciates our dedicated workforce members serving every day to make our patients and community a priority. Their dedication, passion and commitment to their profession often come before personal obligations.

Times of uncertainty and stress are challenging in many ways, which is why Columbus Regional Health Foundation has created the CRH Employee Relief Fund to assist eligible CRH employees who are experiencing financial barriers caused by this life-altering crisis, including expenses such as basic housing, transportation, or childcare needs.

To support CRH employees, text crhrelief to 202-858-1233 or visit the link below.