With coronavirus cases surging, John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth is now tracking more patients at home than it is treating inside the hospital.
It’s doing it by combining modern medicine with old-fashioned phone calls.
One of the first patients to take part in the program was Arthur Colbert, 71, an Army veteran and grandfather of 13.
"I was feeling pretty bad,” he said of the time in March when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. “I couldn't hardly walk. And I kept having pains, you know."
After two weeks in the hospital, doctors decided he was well enough to go home.
"When I got sent home I felt a lot better than I felt when I went in,” he said Thursday.
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But he still needed close monitoring.
Colbert took part in a unique program in which a team of JPS nurses and social workers call coronavirus patients recovering at home.
"They called me three times a day,” he said. “They called me in the morning, the afternoons and the evenings."
Dr. Nadia Alawi-Kakomanolis, JPS’s vice chair of primary care, helped institute the program in April.
"It's really just allowing us to keep beds open for the patients who are really sick in the hospital and that need to be hospitalized while still taking good care of our patients here in Tarrant County,” she said.
As JPS's director of outpatient case management, nurse Devon Armstrong oversees the program.
"I think it's working phenomenally," Armstrong said. "The nurses are extremely busy. The social workers are extremely busy. We are absolutely connecting with our patients and monitoring them daily by phone, a couple times a day."
Tracking COVID-19 Cases in North Texas Counties
NBC 5 is tracking the number of COVID-19 related cases, recoveries and deaths in North Texas counties. Choose a county and click on a city or town to see how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting your area.
Cases are cumulative by day and are subject to change, dependent on each county health department's reporting schedule and methodology. Data may be reported county-wide, by city or town, or not at all. Cases, recoveries and death counts in 'unspecified' categories are used as placeholders and reassigned by their respective counties at a later date.
Data: County Health Departments, NBC 5 Staff
Many patients are never even admitted like Colbert was.
"They treated me real good,” Colbert said. “The nurses were real good. They knew what they were talking about. They knew what they were doing, I believe."
Colbert said he's come a long way from those days in the hospital and is feeling fine now.
"It worked out pretty well for me,” he said.
Since April, the program has monitored more than 1,300 patients at home and only five have had to return the hospital when their condition worsened.
Meanwhile, JPS is considering expanding the program to monitor patients at home with a wide variety of ailments other than the coronavirus.