Nearly two months after testing positive for COVID-19, Sue L’Heureux still doesn’t feel herself.
“Fatigue, headaches, nausea – I’m not totally right yet,” said the Whalley-area resident, 66, who has since tested negative and works at a local shopping mall a few hours a week.
In early January, L’Heureux was serious ill with COVID symptoms and was signed up for Fraser Health’s Home Health Monitoring Team, which has helped hundreds of patients like her since the early days of the pandemic.
The six-member team supports people with the virus who can manage safely at home but may be at risk for complications, including the frail elderly, those with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart and lung conditions, and dialysis patients.
Referrals come from physicians, nurse practitioners and public health teams, and the team also follows discharged hospital patients.
Once enrolled, patients answer a daily COVID-19 questionnaire through an application on their phone, tablet or computer, which is monitored by a clinician, and they’re also contacted by phone.
Upon testing positive, L’Heureux was told to self-isolate for what proved to be a very long 20 days.
Living alone and having COVID-19 was frightening, she said.
“Those first few days, I felt really out of it – I couldn’t think, it was rough, and I can’t remember a lot of those days, and never in my life have I experienced anything like this,” L’Heureux recalled.
“So they phoned me daily, every morning at around 10:30, and a doctor did a couple of times, too,” she added.
“I was really scared because of my underlying health condition, and every day I looked forward to that phone call. Just hearing that voice, asking about my oxygen level, and I took my own blood pressure – it made me just feel more relaxed, and I felt that I was going to be OK. I didn’t feel alone anymore. If I didn’t have that daily call, I would have been a basket-case.”
Patients in the care of the Home Health Monitoring Team are instructed on how to take their temperature and measure the oxygen saturation in their blood with a pulse oximeter. Patients who require oxygen at home – those discharged from hospital, primarily – are monitored by respiratory therapists.
Since April 2020, the team has supported more than 1,330 people in the Fraser Health region, from Burnaby to Boston Bar.
“Our clients are really appreciative of the regular check-ins,” said team leader Susan McKela, a Cloverdale-area resident.
“We know their conditions can deteriorate rapidly, so having daily contact with nurses, respiratory therapists and other clinicians who provide clear instruction on what to do, and when to seek hospital care, is somewhat of a lifeline for those self-isolating at home, especially those who live alone.”
Fraser Health’s Home Health services line is 1-855-412-2121, or visit fraserhealth.ca for more details.