Pain management, antibiotics for an infection, hydration and nutrition support — these are just a few examples of why a person might require infusion therapy.
For patients like Brittany Detrick, 27, a paralyzed gastrointestinal tract requires her to use a feeding tube along with a port in her chest to receive IV antibiotics and hydration, making infusions just another part of her daily routine.
“I'm hooked up to a pump all the time,” she says. “I have IVs and tube feedings in a backpack that I wear, and it’s kind of my normal life.”
Now, in response to the pandemic, Coram, CVS Health’s infusion care business, is expanding its mission to care for more infusion patients like Brittany at home – all while helping hospitals prioritize and maintain bed capacity for those infected with COVID-19.
Coram heeded the call for help early on. “As coronavirus struck, we were hearing from our hospital partners that they were concerned about freeing up hospital beds so that they could care for the many patients who would contract COVID-19,” says Tricia Lacavich, RN BSN, Coram Vice President and General Manager. We asked, ‘How can we help?’”
The approach they took is threefold, Lacavich says: First, get patients out of the hospital and home safely. Second, prevent future patients from being admitted to the hospital unnecessarily. Third, she says, make sure that outpatients who receive long-term infusions in the hospital get those treatments at home.
Much of this is what Coram normally does, but COVID-19 created a new layer of urgency to get and keep patients out of the hospital in a safe and timely way, Lacavich says. That meant more home visits from nurses and increased support for virtual visits through telehealth.
Today, Coram is scaling its mission nationwide, starting in markets with high rates of COVID-19 cases. Its model of home-based health care may become more common even after the pandemic, as more people learn what can be managed at home.
Brittany credits Coram's care for keeping her out of the hospital even when she contracted COVID-19 herself – experiencing mild symptoms and recovering at home, instead. That was crucial, because of her compromised immune system.
“When someone like me goes into the hospital, there’s not just fear of catching COVID, but fear of catching everything else there, too,” she says. “Being able to stay home is always the best thing I can possibly do.”