On the Front Lines of Efficient COVID-19 Patient Evaluations
Not only has Shelby Lee Freed been on the front lines of treating COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began, she developed and championed a more efficient way to evaluate and test patients for this virus at Oregon Health & Science University (OSHU) Hospital in Portland, Oregon.
The 2011 family nurse practitioner graduate was instrumental in creating the hospital’s Federally Qualified Health Center’s satellite respiratory clinic. This clinic improved the efficiency of testing patients outdoors, while decreasing the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) being used during the early days of the pandemic when gowns, masks, and gloves were in shorter supply.
“It is a unique way for clinicians to provide comprehensive, patient-centered care while limiting exposure to COVID at a time when patients and staff were scared to come into the clinic,” said Freed. She noted the respiratory site continues to be used as the number of COVID cases begins to spike again due to the recent protests about racial injustice and a partial reopening of the state.
Freed also has been involved with OHSU’s Connected Care Center, a COVID hotline telephone triage system run by registered nurses dedicated to providing access to care for all Oregonians regardless of location and ability to pay. Her role is to connect insured and uninsured patients to a health care professional via a virtual visit, who can triage their case and provide recommendations for medical evaluation. The call center has taken several thousand calls since its inception.
“We want to make sure that everyone can be seen and cared for regardless of their financial status,” said the Massachusetts native, who is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at OSHU. “Social determinants of health and chronic medical conditions are a very real obstacle and risk factor for many of our patients.”
A photo of her testing patients was the spotlight of National Public Radio (NPR) Oregon subsidiary Oregon Public Broadcasting for several weeks and was also the first image in a recent national television spot ad by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
“This endeavor highlighted what a diverse group of medical professionals can do in the face of a crisis to support their staff and community,” Freed said. “It shows the incredible work that can be done and systems that can be created when you cross the existing silos to work with each individual towards a common goal for the greater good. This is what cost-effective, efficient, innovative, patient-centered primary care is all about.”