For Immediate Release May 15, 2020

University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (UM CRMC) has launched a new campaign called "Protect Your Lungs," a multi-faceted campaign that will foster pneumonia prevention education across our hospital and our community, and will help COVID-19 patients continue their recovery once they leave the hospital. This campaign is a collaborative effort from our departments of Population Health, Performance Improvement, Community Health, Rehabilitation Services, Respiratory Therapy, as well as nursing and clinical staff.

"Pneumonia prevention is particularly important in the fight to keep patients and community members safe and healthy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mary Hannah, RN, MPH, and Manager, Population Health Management at UM CRMC. "Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can occur in people of all ages, but it can often be prevented and treated. Some people with COVID-19 develop pneumonia, making pneumonia prevention more important than ever."

Key Program Elements Include:

  • For inpatients, a "Proning Team" has been established to identify eligible patients, provide education, and assist the patient with frequent repositioning and movement to improve oxygen saturation levels. Improving oxygenation and preventing intubation is critical for awake and alert COVID-19 patients. Proning involves lying flat with one's chest down and back up, which helps the patient's lungs during COVID-19 recovery.
  • In addition, UM CRMC is providing COVID Care Kits to every patient discharged to home after receiving a COVID-19 positive test result. These kits include educational materials, oral care sets, and a pulse oximeter to help patients monitor their oxygen levels once they leave the hospital. This will help give these patients a tool that can both promote peace of mind and/or recognize changes in their respiratory condition early and seek the appropriate care.
  • Starting last month, all patients that received a COVID-19 diagnosis were provided with educational materials and incentive spirometers, handheld tools used to help expand and exercise one's lungs.
  • To help protect the most vulnerable in our community at risk for COVID-19 and pneumonia, various UM CRMC departments have come together to create a video series entitled "Healthy Lungs = Healthy You." This video series includes helpful information and tips on incentive spirometer use, pursed lip breathing, deep breathing, and the importance of oral care and movement. Visit our Youtube page to find more information on how to promote healthy lung function while at home.

Patient outreach is vital, Hannah said. Under the program, Nurse Navigators and a Community Health Worker are making calls to patients post-discharge from COVID-19 hospitalizations and Emergency Department visits. During the calls, which help patients with their transition back to the community, staff members reinforce discharge education, make sure they have follow-up care scheduled, confirm they were able to fill new prescriptions, and answers questions about care for the COVID-19 infection during recovery. The initial call is made soon after discharge, and a second call is made a week later to make sure the patient is continuing to do well.

Beyond the hospital, UM CRMC is distributing incentive spirometers to nursing homes, primary care practices, and assisted living facilities across Charles County. To date, over 200 incentive spirometers have been delivered to these community partners and providers.

Reactions of Program Participants:

"We are extremely appreciative for the incentive spirometers that we received from Charles Regional Medical Center. We distributed them to our residents and staff with pulmonary problems, and encouraged them to use them daily. We received a very positive response from both. During this COVID-19 pandemic, having something we can offer people to improve their breathing, has been empowering."

- Karin Lakin, M.Ed. CDP, CADDCT, Owner/Operator, Fenwick Landing Senior Care Community

"We appreciate the incentive spirometers given to our center. We were able to use them for a few residents with great results. Our admissions have been low during this pandemic but we plan to use it with every new admission. Incentive spirometers are a great preventive measure. Thanks again!"

- Marie Fenelon Davis, RN BSN, Center Nurse Executive, Genesis La Plata Center

"The care package with pulse ox…I was grateful to get it because I didn't have one and needed one. I wasn't able to get one through my insurance yet so the hospital gave me one. The reading material keeps me on track because it shows me what to do daily. I've been following that care package 100% and it's been very helpful. I've been through so much, and I know I wouldn't have been able to do it without the care at the hospital. I use the incentive spirometer too, I use it daily. Even when I'm not sick and am feeling better, I will continue to use it because it helps me."

- Barbara Miller, patient

Links to Educational Materials: