Dear patients, caregivers, family members and community supporters,
The last month has been unprecedented, to say the least. As COVID-19 extended its reach, CareOregon and Housecall Providers started preparing for what we knew was coming to the Northwest.
Our preparations have focused on how to care for our patients — the most vulnerable targets of the virus — while doing everything in our power to protect both them and staff members who would be going into their homes. At the same time, we heard from our state leaders about the need for social distancing and limits to visitors in facilities. Our biggest concern echoed that of health care communities across the U.S.: lack of available personal protective equipment (PPE) — including masks, gowns, gloves and goggles and/or face shields — which are essential to protect our patients and staff and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We quickly realized that our limited supply required that we temporarily suspend or significantly limit in-person visits across all our programs until we received the amount of PPE necessary to protect our patients, caregivers and staff. Currently, we are still waiting for additional supplies, but they are anticipated shortly.
We are rapidly implementing alternative care options for our patients. We have instituted telephone visits and will soon launch telehealth video visits using a platform called doxy.me. Administrative and/or clinical staff will be working with patients and caregivers to schedule a visit that suits the situation.
The decision to suspend house calls was not easily made and it is being reevaluated daily. As this situation unfolds, we are continually exploring avenues to obtain PPE. Staff, eager to pitch in and help with the shortages, started resourcing materials to make face shields for their colleagues. We are engaging with local companies to ensure we have reliable channels if our emergency supplies dwindle. I have been so inspired by our staff, partners and local businesses whose tireless dedication and commitment helps us get through this crisis.
We are committed to resuming house calls at a more typical pace, but not at the expense of the health of our patients, caregivers or staff. We are closely following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidelines and will update our policies as new guidelines unfold.
Please stay safe and take care of yourselves during this challenging time.
All my best,
Rebecca Ramsay, MPH
Chief Executive Officer
P.S. To protect yourself, loved ones and our community, please continue to follow Governor Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order and CDC guidelines. Additionally, please reach out by phone or computer to 211, a free, confidential referral and information helpline and website that connects people to the essential health and human services they need. 211 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.