In-home care during a COVID-19 scare: Regence employee shares his experience
DispatchHealth brings in-home medical care when and where needed for select Regence members
On a Saturday morning a few months ago, I woke up with a fever, body aches and felt exhausted. My first thought was that I probably had COVID-19. Having been the primary grocery shopper for my family, I was the only one making regular public outings, and my symptoms were among the most common for COVID-19.
With a fever registering 102 degrees, I knew it was probably more than a common cold.
My wife and I decided to see whether taking acetaminophen would reduce my fever. Keeping our two boys, ages 8 and 5, away from me, I’d rest as much as possible and hopefully feel better the next day. By Sunday morning, however, my fever was 103.5 degrees and my right ear was painfully swollen.
Under normal circumstances, my wife and I would have driven to an urgent care clinic to have my ear examined. But the prospect of possibly having COVID-19, or risking exposure to the virus by visiting an urgent care clinic, was concerning. I was in no condition to drive and didn’t want to have my entire family in the car to take the trip.
Accessing care when it’s difficult to go to a doctor
This is when exploring DispatchHealth, an in-home urgent care provider, proved timely. Delivering medical care to a patient’s home in select areas, DispatchHealth is covered by my Regence health plan like other in-network providers. I logged on to my member account on regence.com to confirm I was within DispatchHealth’s service area and then called for an appointment.
In less than an hour, the DispatchHealth medical team arrived covered head-to-toe in personal protective equipment. This included a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant. After a quick exam and a COVID-19 test, the DispatchHealth team determined I had an inner-ear infection that was causing the fever and pain. The COVID-19 test would be processed later to see if I had the virus as well.
I was prescribed an antibiotic, which my wife picked up at our pharmacy later that day. Once the antibiotics started working, I began feeling better within 24 hours; two days later I learned my COVID-19 test came back negative.
“It’s not always possible for patients in need of medical attention to get to a hospital or urgent care clinic,” says Regence Senior Executive Medical Director Dr. Drew Oliveira. “Having DispatchHealth as part of the Regence provider network allows us to extend the delivery of urgent and diagnostic care for situations like these right to our members’ homes.”
Convenient urgent care in select areas of Washington, Oregon and Idaho
I was impressed by how quickly and thoroughly the DispatchHealth team provided care. As promised, they arrived within a few hours of scheduling an appointment. I also learned that the provider is able to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, plus take lab samples and order prescriptions. Best of all was the convenience of being able to get the treatment I needed without having to leave home.
DispatchHealth’s service territory covers select portions of the Portland, Seattle-Tacoma, Spokane and Boise metro areas, and the provider has ambitious plans to expand its territory.
“Even before the pandemic began, we were developing and expanding care modalities to make accessing care more convenient for our members,” said Oliveira. “With people distancing themselves and choosing to avoid provider offices, the need for at-home care has accelerated, and we’re pleased to offer it where many of our members live.”
Easing access to care and expanding at-home care options are ways Regence is helping to make health more person-focused for members like me. Regence members can log in to regence.com to learn about at-home care options. They can also call Regence Customer Service using the number on the back of their member ID card.
DispatchHealth is a separate and independent company that provides in-home urgent care services for Regence members.