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The COVID symptom not mentioned on CDC’s list – fear

The COVID symptom not mentioned on CDC’s list – fear
A persistent cough and fatigue - the signs were there for Tanya Hubbard but allergy sufferer who was
working long hours pushed them aside at first.

“Over the counter medication helped my symptoms improve and I had a doctor’s appointment already
scheduled,” she said. “I had been working long hours and was exhausted so I pushed it off.”

An odd pain across her chest and arm, a slightly elevated temperature and sleepless nights heighted her
awareness so she asked her provider to order a COVID-19 test. Still, she thought she was just being
overly cautious – ruling it out.
“When the call came, I was still surprised. I know I shouldn’t be but I was,” Hubbard said. She’d been taking care of herself, wearing her mask and staying home but the virus still found her and eventually landed her in Carle’s Emergency Department.

After more than 10 days of fighting the virus successfully at home, a well-wishing co-worker prompted action – and fear.

“At home, I was wondering every day – will I need to go the hospital?, am I going to need a ventilator? – it’s terrifying,” she said. At 61 and diabetic, she has an increased risk of complications and she no longer felt comfortable managing this on her own.

Carle ED providers noticed a pattern. Many patients returned because their symptoms weren’t
improving or they had new ones and it frightened them. They had questions and nowhere to turn for

“A lot of people coming in are really very healthy ordinarily. They aren’t used to being sick. Also, no
one’s had COVID before so there’s just a lot of questions and worry about what’s considered normal,”
Ben Davis, MD, said.

The team implemented a new COVID at Home program to assist people with safe recovery at home.
Providers now enroll COVID+ patients seen in the Urbana ED who are healthy enough to go home in a
transitional care program to remotely track them.

These patients receive a kit including a thermometer, pulse oximeter, care instructions and a symptom
log alongside daily provider check-ins by phone or video to keep a close eye on their progress. Since
mid-September, a growing number of more than 100 patients participated and 86 percent of them have
been successfully cared for at home.

If a patient needs additional care, teams can assist with arranging in-home assistance or can admit them
for further treatment.

“Sometimes, we need to see patients who have difficulty maintaining their oxygen levels,” Dr. Davis
said. “But a lot of the time, we’re able to reassure them they are progressing well.”

Hubbard knew keeping track of her ability to breathe and controlling her cough were vital and she
appreciated the tools Carle provided to help monitor that at home.

“Dr. (Jose) Ochoa taught me so much about COVID. He made sure I understood what was going on
inside my body,” Hubbard said. Armed with a kit and discharge instructions, she was better prepared
but her story doesn’t end there.

“It’s still pretty overwhelming to leave with a sheet of paper and some tools,” she said.
Inspired by the daily support she received, Hubbard is expanding her role at Carle on the Transitional
Care team to help patients better understand their discharge instructions.

“I was pretty tired when I left, still didn’t feel well and was on my own – like a lot of folks who come to
Carle. But having someone help answer questions and walk me through medication adjustments and
next steps the next day when I was at home and a bit more refreshed made a difference,” Hubbard said.
Now, she wants to do that for others and relieve some fear.

“Patients often prefer recovering at home than in the hospital. They feel more comfortable and have
their family nearby,” Charles Liang, DO, Carle Transitional Care Clinic said. “But they also they have
questions – and their caregivers do too, so this helps us be even more proactive and accessible inhelping them heal.”
IMG_0775-(1).jpgWith many hospitals including Carle, seeing an large increase in the number of COVID-19 patients who need our care, providers hope patients still ask for help when needed.

“One difference we have noticed with COVID is an increased anxiety level. It’s very reassuring when a provider calls daily and checks in. With the isolation of quarantine, patients can sometimes feel like they are on their own. Our daily phone calls let them know, someone cares,” Dr. Liang said.

Patients shouldn’t hesitate to use Carle’s COVID resources – like the Hotline or your Primary Care
Provider. The COVID at Home program is just one we’re addressing the growing need this virus is
bringing to our communities.”

Categories: Redefining Healthcare

Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, emergency department

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