Tampa Bay area hospitals able to send more COVID-19 patients home with wearable biotechnology

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 17:56:38-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Hospitals across the Tampa Bay area are taking some of their hospital care online, as they learn more about COVID-19 and become more comfortable with treating the symptoms.

Now, some hospitals are able to send certain COVID-19 patients home with a device, and sometimes some medication, in order to monitor them outside the hospital, while safely getting patients back to the comfort of their homes and freeing up bed space.

“They may go home with a biotechnology wearable device, or even a pulse oximeter, so when I say a biotechnology wearable device, that might be something that measures your heart rate, your oxygen, your blood pressure, all by wearing a patch or a band,“ said Dr. Jason Wilson, Associate Medical Director of the Adult Emergency Department at Tampa General Hospital.

Both TGH and BayCare are using devices like the pulse oximeter and wearable biotechnology, which are monitored by healthcare professionals.

“They [USF] actually have nurse practitioner students who are monitoring these vital signs 24 hours a day,” said Dr. Wilson

Those healthcare professionals are then able to call the patients if they see anything that looks abnormal.

“We have symptoms that people put in every day, they click on their symptoms, and if it looks worrisome, then it gets sent to the top of the list and a nurse will call them right away,” said Dr. Nishant Anand, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for BayCare Health System.

As more young people test positive for COVID-19, doctors are getting a better handle on what symptoms to look for in that younger population.

“Younger people tend to have no symptoms, or maybe just mild symptoms. They may have a fever, shortness of breath, cough, little runny nose, so they can be pretty mild symptoms,” said Dr. Anand.

While the FDA hasn’t approved a “fix-all” medication, doctors at TGH say certain drugs, like Vitamin D and blood thinners have shown promise among certain groups of people.

“It looks like some people after a hospital stay, they also need what’s called an anticoagulant, or a blood thinner, because we’re learning that a lot of people, because of all this inflammation and also this vascular damage that COVID-19 does, have a higher risk for blood clots,“ said Dr. Wilson.

Both healthcare systems assure people the hospital is still a safe place to be if you do need to go.

They also urge people to wear a mask and social distance when you are outside your home, in order to not overwhelm the healthcare system.