WATERTOWN — After receiving $5,000 from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Award, Samaritan Medical Center will be able to expand its home health monitoring program and purchase an additional 40 medical-grade pulse oximeters.
The pulse oximeters, small devices which measure patients’ oxygen saturation levels, will be issued to outpatients whose oxygenation-related symptoms are not severe enough to require hospitalization, so that their conditions can be monitored at home.
In addition to being sent home with a pulse oximeter, a patient is issued instructions on device usage and a phone number to call should their oxygen saturation levels drop. A care team assigned to each patient provides ongoing follow-up care, including regular home and/or telemedicine visits during the patient’s treatment and recovery periods.
“We are thankful for this support from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield as we seek to enhance convenience of care for our patients,” said Dr. Mario Victoria, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at Samaritan, in a statement on the award. “We recognize hospitalization is not something any of us want, and if we can safely monitor patients at home using devices like a pulse oximeter, along with the help of our well-trained staff from Samaritan Home Health, we will produce positive outcomes for these patients.”
Earlier this year, Samaritan piloted a program issuing pulse oximeters to COVID-19 patients whose moderate-to-serious symptoms did not warrant hospital admittance. The Community Health Award from Excellus will allow the hospital to expand the program to other types of patients whose conditions require oxygen monitoring, such as those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The Excellus BCBS Community Health Award will help to ensure hospital beds and resources are available to more severely ill patients, easing pressure on hospital bed capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.