Heroes for Better: Gayle Kricke, PhD, MSW, Jeffrey Linder, MD, PhD, and the 500-Member Team of the COVID-19 Patient Monitoring Program
May 5, 2020 | 3 min. to read
Despite the challenging landscape, a spirit of camaraderie and determination is allowing Northwestern Medicine staff and physicians to overcome unique obstacles presented by COVID-19. One example is the COVID-19 Patient Monitoring Program, which brings together more than 500 individuals, including Feinberg School of Medicine students and Northwestern Medicine staff from a variety of specialties. The program is designed to monitor and support patients who are not hospitalized but who have tested positive, are pending results or are presumed to have COVID-19.
“We identified there was a gap for the patients. They were getting this diagnosis and going home,” says Gayle Kricke, PhD, MSW, director of Operations of Primary Care, who was among those to help develop the COVID-19 Monitoring Program with Jeffrey A. Linder, MD, MPH, FACP, chief of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “This presented a unique opportunity to both monitor and advise them.”
Since more than 80% of patients with COVID-19 do not require hospitalization, the program marks an efficient process to monitor patients at home and, if necessary, triage them to the appropriate level of care.
The program was developed and launched in just four days, a feat made possible by teamwork. “The speed and skill with which leadership, project management, medical students, nurses, advanced practice providers, physician attendings and Information Systems staff came together was nothing short of remarkable,” says Dr. Linder.
It is a feat, he notes, that is also a reflection of Kricke’s hard work. “I would take any opportunity to credit Gayle Kricke for pulling it together. She has worked long days, worked through a lot and managed a very successful program.”
Each day, patients are asked to report their symptoms through NM MyChart. Individuals who do not respond or who report severe symptoms receive a phone call from a clinician. A pool of physicians is available to do clinical follow-up for individuals who have time-sensitive questions.
“We’re trying to help patients stay at home and be well through their illness, but also keeping an eye out for severe symptoms and patients who need ED or hospital-level care,” says Dr. Linder.
The program helps limit the number of people showing up in the ED and being unnecessarily exposed (or exposing others) to the virus, and it helps those with emergent needs get care quickly.
“We’re helping people remain safe in their home, knowing that someone is checking up on them,” says Kricke. And although technology, including Epic and NM MyChart, is an integral part of the program, it is the added human touch that sets it apart. “If they have certain criteria, we will triage them and do a warm handoff so the emergency department is aware they are coming.”
This level of care is made possible by seamless teamwork, and patients are benefiting. Once a patient no longer exhibits symptoms for three consecutive days, they graduate from the program and return to standard medical care.
“You couldn’t possibly name all of the people who have been, in some way, part of this program,” says Kricke. “The appreciation and the feedback we’re getting has been tremendous. The only way this could have happened is through the amount of people who said, ‘Yes.’ That’s the most inspiring piece — just how many people have totally changed their work to make these calls. This exemplifies how we are truly thinking about Patients First.”
Heroes for Better is a campaign to honor our workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeking stories, photos or art that show teamwork, impactful interactions and inspiring moments. Some of your stories may be shared on NM Interactive, nm.org and/or NM social media channels. Submit your story by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.