This article describes statewide initiatives launched in Illinois to reach vulnerable populations and keep noncritical cases out of their hospitals.
On Saturday, the Illinois governor announced the launch of several statewide initiatives leveraging telehealth capacity to reach community-based individuals with mild Coronavirus-like symptoms and mental health-related needs:
- The Pandemic Health Worker programs are collaborations between the state Healthcare and Family Services agency and regional health systems offering community based and remote patient monitoring services. According to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, “A pandemic health worker team will be [trained and] dispatched into each community and will partner with several organizations in the community to identify patients in need of services, provide outreach to patients, deliver health and wellness kits, food, medicine and connect patients to any telehealth services they may need. Once a patient is referred to a PHW, they will receive at least 14 days of services and will then be re-evaluated for any additional needs. SIU will collect patient data, evaluate outcomes for the program, and provide updates to the HFS.” Wellness kits will be delivered to community members who have capacity to to be digitally monitored at home, and are suffering mild COVID-19 symptoms. These kits will include thermometers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs and alcohol wipes.
- The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division launched a free-of-charge emotional support test line – “Call4Calm” – for residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19. Those contacting the hotline will be connected within 24 hours to a counselor from a local community mental health center.