Grant and matching gift provide innovative telemedicine care to nearly 300 patients during COVID-19

July 17, 2020

Update as of March 30, 2021: More than 1,600 Virtual Health at Home kits, valued at $300 each, have been given to patients since the pandemic began in March 2020. Donors provided more than 60% of the funding to make this possible, ensuring that patients continued to receive excellent medical care in a virtual setting, while also keeping our providers and admitted hospital patients safer by reducing in-person visits to our campus and clinics.

In early April 2020, Blue Federal Credit Union provided a charitable grant to Denver Health Foundation for Virtual Hospital at Home kits to patients suspected of or confirmed as having COVID-19.

The $25,000 grant from Blue Federal Credit Union was matched by community donations, totaling $50,000 to be used toward telemedicine. The kits included a blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter, and thermometer, which allowed physicians to monitor participants’ vital signs during daily phone check-ins. This made it possible to provide what has been offered in the past as in-person care – that is, the ability to measure blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels – in an at-home, remote setting.

Over the course of three months, the program funded by Blue Federal Credit Union helped treat 288 patients. Many of the patients were from low-income households or had underlying health conditions, including hypertension (60.9% of participants), diabetes (25.8%), and lung disease (23.2%). These underlying conditions made it essential to monitor their health closely to ensure the best outcome after a COVID-19 diagnosis.

“As an institution that takes care of the patients at the highest risk for complications and deaths, we wanted to make sure that we monitored our patients in a safe manner to provide them that extra level of care to keep them safe,” said Dr. Rebecca Hanratty, one of the lead physicians of this program.

Overall, the Virtual Hospital at Home initiative, which monitored as many as 40 COVID-19 patients in one day during the initial peak of the pandemic, was a great stress reliever to those patients and their families. Not only did it provide key indicators for when patients needed to seek urgent medical attention, it also provided reassurance to those in quarantine who needed the extra medical support to feel safe.

One 26-year-old patient who lives alone was scared because she was having trouble breathing. She was grateful that this program helped her monitor her symptoms and reduce her anxiety. Another patient was new to Colorado and renting a room from a family he did not know well. His closest family members were in Chicago and his wife and daughter were in Guatemala. He was terrified that he was going to die and not see his four-year-old daughter again. In addition to the medical support, physicians were also able to set him up with food assistance through Project Angel Heart.

“During these trying times, we wanted [our gift] to help where it was needed the most,” said Ashley Garcia, Business Development Specialist with Blue Federal Credit Union. “The Virtual Hospital at Home enabled Denver Health to care for those who needed it while staying safe at home. Blue is a community based credit union, and giving back and doing good is at the heart of everything we do.”

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