Caring For Our Elderly & Vulnerable Populations During COVID-19
While the world’s attention focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, residents may rest a bit more comfortable knowing that Converse County has a unique tool to help during these difficult times.
Started in 2018 by Memorial Hospital of Converse County paramedic Jeremey Littleton, the Converse County Community Paramedicine Program expands the role of EMS providers to help fill gaps in healthcare services for county residents. In situations where access to medical providers is difficult or limited, paramedics can visit a patient at home to draw blood, run tests, and help administer medications or vaccinations. Non-emergency care may also be provided to help patients improve their quality of life.
Littleton completed extensive specialized coursework focused on identifying community resource gaps, understanding the financial side of healthcare, and performing a community-needs assessment before establishing the paramedicine program. The structure of the innovative outreach effort has allowed Littleton to become a bridge between patients and their doctors while providing convenient medical care to those who need it most.
Staying current with recent events is imperative to staying healthy. The most vulnerable populations to COVID-19 are elderly residents with underlying medical conditions, and those who are prone to pneumonia or immunocompromised. Common signs and symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and new onsets of confusion. Best practices to prevent transmission of COVID-19 include staying home, hand washing for at least 20-30 seconds, avoiding large crowds, and maintaining a distance of six feet or more from others if you must go out.
“Memorial Hospital of Converse County is supporting our vulnerable populations by providing informational material that provides important details about what COVID-19 is, symptom recognition, and simple ways to protect yourself,” said Littleton. “Furthermore, we are doing our part to ensure that the citizens in our community are well informed, remaining calm, and dispelling any inaccurate information or rumors about COVID-19 so that panic can be avoided.”
When it comes to COVID-19, the benefits of staying home to get tested or receive necessary medical care include: not exposing others or being exposed to the virus, keeping emergency department resources freed up for critical patients, and helping to keep the strain on in-hospital medical providers down. The isolation of staying home is not without its drawbacks, primarily when it comes to elderly or vulnerable individuals living alone.
“In these times of social distancing, we must reach out to our elderly and vulnerable populations,” said Littleton. “This could be as simple as calling a friend, a neighbor, mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, and let them know that we haven’t forgotten about them. This is a great community that binds together when times are difficult. If we remember to be kind and look out for one another, we all stand to grow and be better people and a better community when this is over.”
For more information about COVID-19 and Memorial Hospital’s efforts to keep our community safe, please visit: conversehospital.com/covid19