Providing home care for COVID-19 patients is part of the calling
Good Samaritan – Home Care in St. Peter, Minnesota, didn’t flinch when the coronavirus began moving through the area.
Thanks to the home health services available through Good Samaritan – Home Care, living at home is a viable option for seniors of all abilities in this area of southern Minnesota.
That includes COVID-19 patients who are well enough to leave the hospital but still need some level of assistance upon their return home.
“As nurses, we know we’re going to take care of people who have contagious and virulent diseases,” says Nicki Meyer, Home Health clinical nurse supervisor. “We all signed on for that.”
As Nicki explains, home health comes with a unique set of responsibilities. That’s true in all cases, but especially so during the pandemic.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the clients we’ve seen who are dealing with the virus,” Nicki says. “Some of them would not have been able to come home without our help. They didn’t have other options for a place to go.”
The staff has treated six COVID-19 patients. All of them are cared for by Brianna Kerling, a Good Samaritan nurse. While some might view this as going above and beyond the call of duty, Brianna sees it as nothing more than being a good nurse.
“The Good Samaritan has been very thorough – we have everything we need,” Brianna says. “I wasn’t thrown into it. I knew what I was getting into. We’ve gone through all the protocols.”
When it became apparent there would be a need for home care for COVID-19 patients, the Home Care staff began preparing for it by putting together a plan that assured safety for both care givers and patients.
This plan includes “visit kits” and “car kits.” The visit kit is a bag that includes a pen, paper, a drape, extra gloves, a gown, a mask, a face shield and extra sanitizing wipes. The staff is screened every day and clients are screened prior to each visit.
Why the pen and paper? Because nurses do not bring computers with them into homes so to avoid another means of transmitting the virus. They write the information down that they’d normally record on a laptop, then take the paper with them and record it later.
The staff also created car kits that include extra personal protective equipment that nurses keep in the trunks of their vehicles.
“If they should happen to come out to their car in the middle of the visit they’re going to have to take off the gown and replace it,” Nicki says. “Or if a nurse has to make an emergency visit on the weekend, they still have the supplies to keep them safe.”
The extra precautions are definitely paying off. Since taking on COVID-19, the St. Peter location has not had any patients or staff members develop the coronavirus while under the agency’s care.
“We have a good staff here,” Brianna says. “Nicki has been in meetings every week. I feel like we’re up-to-date on everything. When it came down to caring for COVID patients, it was like ‘Yep, we’re going to do it.’”
It’s that kind of commitment that sustains Home Care’s efforts during the pandemic.
“A lot of times I’ve been the only person they’re really seeing because a lot of them had to isolate and couldn’t have visitors over or anyone else helping them,” Brianna says. “They’ve all been very grateful.”