Some coronavirus sufferers who would have been admitted into the emergency division at a New York hospital are being sent home with an oxygen-tracking machine as the city’s medical system struggles to maintain resources for only the sickest individuals.
The new program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is an instance of how doctors are adapting and loosening regular protocols to alleviate the pressure on emergency rooms and intensive care units in New York state, the hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
Since last week, over 200 individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the respiratory sickness caused by the virus, have been sent home with a pulse oximeter to monitor their oxygen ranges. A doctor or nurse practitioner follows up with them through video conference.
An oximeter is a small digital device that clips onto a fingertip to indirectly track the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood. In extreme COVID-19 cases, the virus can block up the lungs, hindering their ability to pump oxygen from the air into the bloodstream. While most who contract the virus recover, it has killed a minimum of 4,900 people within the city
Some of the NewYork-Presbyterian sufferers are also being sent home with a 30lb transportable oxygen concentrating machine that sends oxygen-rich air by way of a nasal cannula, a two-pronged tube inserted into the nostrils.
The patient is requested to log their oximeter readings to share with a doctor or nurse practitioner at 12-hour and 24-hour consultations.