Regional health officials and first responders launched a simple “symptom checker” tool people can pull up on their laptop or smartphone for advice on COVID-19. The c19oregon.com (link is external) application, customized for use in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, helps people determine if their illness is serious enough to require immediate emergency care.
“This puts a valuable tool in the hand of anyone with a phone... to make informed decisions about their health,’’ said Multnomah County Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines.
The tool offers an online checklist to help people decide if their symptoms and underlying health conditions are serious enough that they should go to the hospital, visit their provider at a clinic, or can recover at home.
The application is available in 15 languages.
Developers from Vital Software in Atlanta worked with Emory University School of Medicine (link is external)and the Emory Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (link is external) to create the free c19check.com (link is external) site last month.
Long-time collaborators Lt. Rich Chatman of Portland Fire & Rescue and Multnomah County Emergency Medical Services director Dr. Jon Jui learned of the tool and advocated for support and funding for local developers to hone a custom version for the tri-county area.
By providing their zip code, users can see the nearest hospitals with space available. It also alerts people to the steps they can take depending on their risk level, from calling a physician, to an advice nurse to 211 for other support.
“If people need medical help and their local hospital is experiencing a surge, the tool will send them to another facility where they can get treated quickly,’’ said Lt. Chatman. “The goal is to have C19oregon direct the right resources to the right place at the right time to help the people in greatest need.”
Dr. Ritu Sahni, EMS Medical Director for Clackamas and Washington Counties, said, "Additionally, the tool may give us insight into which portions of our community may see a rise in infections before it becomes visible to the health care system."
“It’s a resource that can match patients’ complaints and decreases stress on the entire system,’’ said Dr. Jui.
Dr. Jennifer Vines said that the statewide effort to stay home and use social distancing has made her cautiously optimistic that our collective action is making a difference in slowing the spread.
“We need people to keep doing what they’re doing because it’s protecting one another, and keeping our healthcare system in a good place.’’
Dr. Vines also reminded people that if they do not have a provider, or lack insurance, there are community health centers that are taking new patients and can help people stay healthy. A list of those centers is being added to the tool to further support health.