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Home visit health care industry expected to grow during coronavirus pandemic

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Posted at 9:11 AM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 18:19:32-04

DENVER -- As the coronavirus becomes a top concern for Coloradans, many residents will still need to see a doctor for other reasons, but won't want to be exposed to people coughing, or exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

Mobile acute-care providers, like Denver-based DispatchHealth, are another option.

Selaunje Stewart called DispatchHealth two months ago, after stepping on a Christmas ornament her cat had knocked off the tree.

"I was kind of sleepy," she said, "and thought it was cat food."

Stewart tried to dislodge the "cat food," by brushing the bottom of her left foot across the top of her right foot.

That's when she realized the cat food was actually a shard of glass, which sliced open the top of her foot.

"It just continued to bleed," she said, "and I was having a hard time keeping the wound closed."

She didn't want to call an ambulance because of the expense, and thought about Uber, but decided against it.

"I could possibly have opened up this wound to more infection, by leaving the house," she said, "and trying to get into an Uber with my foot bleeding was not an option."

Urgent search

She googled "urgent care" and scrolled down to DispatchHealth, a mobile acute care provider founded in 2013 by two clinicians.

"We can treat everything an urgent care can, plus some," said Carah Campini, DispatchHealth's Colorado Market Director. "Everything from IV fluids to stitches, to acute flareups of Congestive Heart Failure, COPD, the common cold, all of that kind of stuff, we're able to do in the home."

Stewart called.

A Dispatch crew came out, brought in their medical equipment, cleaned her wound and stitched her up.

With coronavirus sweeping through Colorado, Stewart said there's no way she'll go sit in a waiting room full of people coughing, if she needs medical help.

"If I don't have to expose myself, I won't," she said.

Campini told Denver7 that DispatchHealth isn't equipped yet to deal with corona virus patients, but can take care of those who want to avoid contact with people exhibiting symptoms of Covid 19 infection.

"Coronavirus has really reminded DispatchHealth why we were founded, which is to be able to keep high risk folks out of traditional care settings, those are folks that are older, or have compromised immune systems," Campini said. "There are times where it's better for them to get care at home."

President's news conference

Home health care was part of President Trump's coronavirus news conference on Friday.

The President invited David Pierre, the head of another large home health care company, Signify Health, up to the podium for some brief remarks.

"We are the largest house call provider in the US and we go to the homes of the most vulnerable, the elderly, and through our network and logistics engine, we stand ready to help and provide clinicians to be where they are needed, whether they're in retail clinics or in the home, and we're here to assist," Pierre said.

Campini said providing acute care at home is a growing business.

"DispatchHealth started in Denver, and we're now in 19 markets across the country," she said, "including Colorado Springs."

Campini said the number of patients varies from day to day, but estimated that Dispatch crews will take care of 24,000 to 25,000 patients in Denver this year.