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Published on March 08, 2021

Avera Observes One Year of COVID-19

March 11, 2021, marks one year since COVID-19 was recognized as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.

“This milestone is a time to reflect. We remember with sadness the people who have died due to this virus. We remember the financial and personal hardships that people have endured. Yet we also are mindful of the innovations that have taken place. We recognize the many people who have proven themselves to be heroes through their selfless service,” said Bob Sutton, President and CEO of Avera Health.

Avera statistics related to COVID-19 care:

  • 5,000 hospitalizations
  • 5,100 people monitored and treated at home through Avera@Home’s Care Transitions program
  • 132,000 contacts via the Avera COVID-19 hotline
  • 307,000 COVID-19 tests
  • 56,000 people vaccinated (with at least one dose)

“Avera has drawn upon our strengths as a system and past innovations,” said David Erickson, MD, Avera Chief Medical and Innovation Officer. “This includes Avera’s 24-hour medical call center, telemedicine, and a robust home care program that were already in place.”

When Avera needed to limit in-person clinic visits to help “flatten the curve” last spring, the organization looked to its 25+ years of experience in telemedicine to quickly set up virtual visits. Avera virtual visits climbed quickly to an average of 1,000 per day, and since March 2020, Avera providers have done over 110,000 virtual visits.

Within the first few days of the pandemic, Avera set up a 24-hour COVID hotline which can be reached at 1-877-AT-AVERA. This hotline has given thousands of people direction and reassurance about COVID symptoms, exposure, testing and vaccination. Since March 2020, this hotline has experienced over 132,000 phone and email contacts.

Avera@Home quickly stood up a Care Transitions program specifically to treat and monitor COVID patients at home. “This prevented thousands of hospitalizations and kept our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed,” Sutton said.

“All these factors helped ensure that we were well prepared for this pandemic. So far we have weathered through it well, providing high quality and timely care to our patients,” Sutton said. “We look forward to the innovative ways in which we will be able to serve patients in the future.”

“It’s important to remember that the pandemic is not over,” Erickson said. “Although case numbers and hospitalizations are lower, it’s still important to observe measures to slow the spread of the virus: wear a mask, practice social distancing and stay home when sick.”

Find information about Avera COVID care and testing at Avera.org/COVID-19 and vaccine information at Avera.org/COVID-vaccine.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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