New online tool geared to Portland area
Public health officials and first responders from the Portland metro area Thursday launched a simple “symptom checker” tool that people can pull up on their laptop or smartphone for advice on COVID-19.
The c19oregon.com application, customized for use in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, can help 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 resident 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.
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. Rich Chatman of Portland Fire & Rescue. “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.”
The online tool was originally developed by Vital Software in Atlanta in conjunction with medical providers and first responders from Atlanta. Chatman and Multnomah County Emergency Medical Services Director Dr. Jon Jui were able to build support and funding for local developers to hone a custom version for the tri-county area.
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."
Dr. 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,’’ she said.
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.
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."