From left: Fatai Obisesan, LPN, Licensed Practical Nurse; Keri Linardi, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPCA, Chief Clinical Officer; Jessica Velasco, RN, HHA Supervisor + Chronic Care Manager
Since Coronavirus arrived in Connecticut in early March, RVNAhealth has cared for more than 100 COVID-19 patients, accepting and caring for those from all area hospitals, facilities, and physicians and treating them through home health and hospice services. New admissions continue daily, reflecting the expanding COVID population, and are expected to continue through the next several weeks, at least. Patients come from towns across the RVNAhealth region, from Danbury, Southbury, and Ridgefield to Stamford, Norwalk and Wilton.
“Our mission doesn’t fade when a pandemic arrives,” says Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, CHCA, President & CEO of RVNAhealth. “On the contrary, we are doing everything in our power to help those around us. For COVID-19, we have kicked it into high gear so that we can care for COVID patients, in addition to our traditional population.”
Not every home health and hospice agency has been in a position do this, meaning RVNAhealth has taken on a leading role in providing care for COVID-19 patients upon release from, or in place of, the hospital. “Hospital beds are reserved for those who require intensive equipment and care. RVNAhealth’s role is to support patients and families – as well as hospital systems — by providing the best possible care at home,” elaborates Keri Linardi, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPCA, Chief Clinical Officer. “We’ve been doing this 24/7 since we accepted our first case.”
When hints of the eventual impact of Coronavirus began to become apparent, RVNAhealth moved swiftly to adapt and prepare. Where other agencies may have had cause to pause due to lack of PPE or other resources, RVNAhealth stepped forward into an unfamiliar landscape — adapting protocols and procedures and mobilizing all expertise to understand and meet the rapidly changing environment. Efforts included:
- PPE Procurement — the ongoing procurement of PPE (personal protective equipment) to protect the RVNAhealth team and patients throughout the pandemic and beyond. Actively identifying both traditional and creative sources of PPE and securing funding to support all PPE purchases.
- New Technologies — Re-configuration of the RVNAhealth electronic medical system to accept and accommodate COVID-19 workflows, codes, and critical patient information; adaptations, equipment, and education to support video-conferencing visits; implementation and support of telecommuting for all non-essential staff.
- Expanded Clinical Education and Processes — Development of best practices for care of COVID-19 patients; re-alignment of staff into COVID-19 teams and non-COVID teams; ongoing team education regarding care practices, PPE, new technologies; new procedures; new developments.
- Identification and Pursuit of Funding — Identifying and pursuing all viable sources of funding to support direct and indirect impacts of the Coronavirus including PPE purchases; staffing impacts; clinical costs; costs of care.
- Staffing and New Personnel Considerations — Ongoing recruitment to handle expanded patient census; development of telecommuting policies and practices; implementation of leave policies to support impacted staff; development of emotional support options and groups; recognition for additional hours and extraordinary performance.
Traditional Business Continues
In addition to the COVID-19 work, RVNAhealth’s traditional business is still going strong.
“Our non-COVID population right now is high as we continue to serve patients and clients who require our usual services – home health, palliative and hospice care, rehabilitative therapies, non-medical caregiving — as well as nursing services at the RVNAhealth building,” says Theresa.
“Keeping patients and clients safe, healthy – and out of the hospital — is critical right now,” she continues. “While RVNAhealth is committed to providing exceptional care for COVID patients in our communities, we never gave up our ‘day job.’ We’re living our mission every minute of every day.”
In honor of our dedicated team who have stepped up in an unprecedented time of need – and our friends who have supported the work that we do in innumerable ways, we created a video tribute. Please enjoy the video here.