YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Utah Woman Relying On Oximeter, COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring Program At Home

Dec 16, 2020, 8:36 PM | Updated: 9:29 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — As hospitalizations surge, Intermountain Healthcare has found creative ways to care for some patients without placing unnecessary burdens on the health care system. One Utah woman is grateful she was able to be monitored from the comfort of her own home when she got COVID-19.

Valerie Jackson, 71, lives alone. When she got COVID-19 in early September, she was miserable. “I had I think almost every symptom that I’ve heard of,” she explained, including a 104.8-degree fever, pneumonia and difficulty breathing.

Jackson’s children convinced her to go to the emergency room. “My family saved me. They got me into the hospital at a really low point,” she said.

Valerie Jackson was hospitalized after hospital technicians recognized her blood oxygen levels had been falling one day. They called her and told her to report to the emergency department. She was there for a few days before she was sent home with oxygen. (Valerie Jackson)

When she arrived she found she didn’t meet hospital admission criteria because her oxygen levels were not low enough, but doctors wanted to continue monitoring her.

They sent her home with a pulse oximeter, allowing Jackson to measure her own oxygen levels several times a day at home.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Joseph Bledsoe, research director for emergency medicine, called it the COVID Remote Patient Monitoring Program. He said it’s designed for those who don’t meet hospital admission criteria but have enough factors that physicians worry about them enough to send them home with additional monitoring.

“If you’re sitting at home with COVID and don’t know that your oxygen levels are critically low like that, it can be dangerous,” Bledsoe explained.

Early on in the pandemic, Bledsoe and his colleagues saw reports from New York and Italy of people with silent hypoxia.

Intermountain Healthcare’s COVID Remote Patient Monitoring Program allows patients to measure their own oxygen levels at home through an oximeter that connects to an app on their phone. (KSL TV)

“Typically when a patient’s blood oxygen levels drop low, they feel really short of breath and feel terrible with it. But with COVID, for some reason, they were seeing patients who had low oxygen levels, but weren’t feeling all that short of breath,” he explained.

The goal of the program is to prevent patients who may not feel short of breath from losing too much oxygen and risking further complications. “If your oxygen levels are low for long enough, it decreases your heart’s ability to function, it decreases your brain’s ability to function, and if they drop low enough, it certainly can cause death too,” Bledsoe said.

The patient places the oximeter on their finger and their vitals are reported back to the hospital through an app, which the patient installs on their cell phone or iPad.

“We have monitoring techs there who are monitoring for vital signs 24/7, 365,” he said.

“Having that monitor felt like a little friend,” Jackson said. “Just knowing that somebody was there noticing my numbers was comforting … and I think it helped my family a ton because they were so worried.”

Bledsoe said they ask patients to monitor their oxygen levels at least twice a day.

“I got a little paranoid about it and so I started doing it every hour for a couple days,” Jackson said. “They want you to check in regularly and if you don’t, they give you a little call and very politely say, ‘We need to know about your oxygen, could you please check in?'”

At Jackson’s worst, she said she was so sick she wasn’t very mentally present and had a hard time taking care of herself.

“I just remember those days as a fog. I didn’t eat. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do anything except sleep,” she said. “I would take my Tylenol or Advil, set the alarm again, and sleep for four more hours.”

One day her oxygen levels kept falling.

“I got another call that said, you need to go to the ER,” she said. Jackson was admitted to the hospital for a few days and eventually sent home with oxygen.

Looking back, Jackson is grateful she had the oximeter to measure her levels because she couldn’t tell when her oxygen levels were dropping. “I couldn’t feel it. I wouldn’t recognize the symptoms of that lowering of oxygen,” she described.

Bledsoe said this program is key to the hospital’s surge capacity plan. “In that way, we’ve been able to safely keep some people at home and avoid hospitalization and really help to reserve those hospital beds for those that are most sick,” he said.

Today, Jackson is on the mend and her oxygen levels are back to the high 90s. She expressed deep gratitude for her daughter-in-law who came over and cared for her once she was home from the hospital.

She is grateful she didn’t have to spend too much time in the hospital, avoiding large hospital bills and resting in the comfort of her own home.

“It worked really well for me,” she said. Jackson is thankful to hopefully have many more years with her children and grandchildren.

Today Valerie Jackson is on the mend and her oxygen levels are in the high nineties. Jackson says she is grateful to hopefully have several more years left with her children and grandchildren. (Valerie Jackson)

The program is available through all 22 Intermountain Healthcare emergency departments and will soon also be available at local InstaCares. Bledsoe said they are currently deploying about 30 to 50 kits each day and ordered an additional 10,000 kits to be prepared.

If your insurance doesn’t cover the program, Intermountain officials said they will cover the cost.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

When Harrison O’Toole of Layton was five-years-old, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital t...
Peter Rosen, KSL TV

Utah’s Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital celebrates 100 years of treating kids

Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital is used to celebrating kids’ birthdays, but this year the staff there is saying ‘happy birthday’ to the hospital itself.
2 days ago
Mike Dbeisi and Austin Smith are avid outdoor enthusiasts and emergency room doctors with Intermoun...
Ken Fall

How to enjoy Utah’s mountain bike trails safely this summer

Utah is known for outdoor sports, but they don’t come without risk. Two Intermountain ER doctors share their advice for anyone looking to mountain bike in the backcountry.
6 days ago
Dennis Cecchini talks about the overdose death of his son, Tennyson. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)...
Annie Knox, KSL TV

The overdose-reducing drug doctors say more of us should have on hand

It can fit in your pocket and save a life. After overdose deaths from opioids climbed during the pandemic, medical workers and advocates are spreading the word about naloxone.
16 days ago
Mother offers her advice for keeping her kids active at the park in the summer....
Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Ways to keep your kids active during the summer break

With Utah's weather so nice this time of year, you would think getting kids to be active would be a slam dunk. But it can be a tall order given the draw of smartphones, tablets, and video games.
24 days ago
Watermelon pizza - Skip the sugary snacks this summer and make fruit the star of the show with thes...
Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Make fruit the star of summer snack time

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Between the BBQs, road trips, and busy schedules, summer can be a tough time to get healthy snacks into your kids. For Intermountain Healthcare’s corporate executive chef, Alex Govern, a little bit of sugar goes a long way in helping his kids eat healthy. “We don’t say no to sugars,” […]
1 month ago
...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

With warm weather arriving, keep your kids safe from window falls

It’s that time of year when windows are flying open to let in some fresh air. But it’s also when open windows and unsafe screens present a serious danger to little kids.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Utah Woman Relying On Oximeter, COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring Program At Home