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SIU Medicine and Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services now connecting COVID-19+ people at home with pandemic health workers

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Finding out you have COVID-19 can be an unsettling experience that can add to fear, confusion, and anxiety to physical symptoms. To make things more challenging, the required period of quarantine can add feelings of stress, social isolation, and loneliness. Individuals may worry about whether they unknowingly exposed other people to the virus, or simply feel stigmatized after testing positive.

This leaves us with an important question:

What can be done to support our neighbors in quarantine as they recover from COVID-19?

As an answer to this question, our team at SIU Medicine, along with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), announced remote patient monitoring, the State of Illinois' Virtual Care Program, to serve Illinoisans potentially infected with COVID-19.

Initially launched in April 2020, this program is free to non-hospitalized, COVID-19 positive residents of Springfield, Carbondale, Decatur, Quincy, and the greater Metro East area.

Keep reading to learn more about the Illinois Virtual Care Program and how pandemic health workers can help you and your loved ones.

Who are pandemic health workers?

Pandemic health workers (PHWs) are specially trained individuals who support and remotely monitor Illinois residents who have COVID-19 but don't need to be in the hospital. By enrolling in the PHW program, individuals who are quarantining at home with COVID-19 can connect digitally (via phone or video messaging) with their PHW up to two times a day over a 14-day period.

In addition to daily digital check-ins, residents enrolled in the PHW Program also receive wellness kits that allow for accurate monitoring of their illness. Wellness kits may include educational materials, toiletries and health monitoring equipment.

The ultimate goal of the PHW Program is to help quarantining residents remain fully-supported by their medical providers—whether in the clinic or at home. This program is based off the broader research-backed model of community health, which our team at SIU Medicine has already utilized for years. And in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's never been a more important time to bridge the gap between health care services and our community's more vulnerable residents.

3 benefits of connecting with a pandemic health worker while quarantining with COVID-19

1. Professional support from the safety of your own home

Working with a PHW gets you instant and daily access to the support you need¬ as you recover from COVID-19—all from the privacy and comfort of your own home. This keeps you and your neighbors safer.

2. Improved health outcomes for the whole family

Remote check-ins with a PHW provides you with real-time information and recommendations based on the course of your illness. You'll never be left wondering what to do if your symptoms get worse¬, and taking faster action may even help you avoid hospitalization. By reducing stress and empowering you with knowledge and tools, our PHWs can also help you manage other underlying medical conditions and prevent additional health problems from arising during your quarantine. PHWs even provide support during crisis situations, such as those related to behavioral or mental health needs.

3. The knowledge that you're not alone

Knowing that you have a trained community member on your side gives you much-needed peace of mind as you recover from COVID-19. We've already helped dozens of other families through the PHW Program—which means you're not alone in this fight, even if you're at home by yourself.

Want to connect with a pandemic health worker?

Just because you're social distancing or quarantining due to COVID-19 doesn't mean you have give up the personalized medical care you deserve. If you are have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, call SIU Medicine at 217-545-5100 to find out how you can begin to work with a Pandemic Health Worker.

You can also access one of the Illinois Virtual Care Organizations providing services outside of SIU Medicine's region. Text CARE_XXXXX with your zip code in those number slots to 36363 to receive a text message with contact information for pandemic health workers in your area. Normal data rates apply.

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