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How Signature Healthcare is easing nursing home isolation

Signature Healthcare Inc. bought into companywide telehealth about five years before the entire health care industry would jump on board en masse.

But the Louisville-based long-term-care and rehabilitation provider has now integrated a key facet of care for some of the sickest patients into its telehealth platform: Family communication.

Long-term care facilities, more commonly known as nursing homes, all over the country have barred visitors to help cut down on the spread of the coronavirus. Data show that residents of nursing homes make up large portions of coronavirus-related deaths despite being a small portion of the population.

For Kentucky, about half of all coronavirus deaths have been nursing home residents.

“We always knew that telehealth was such a key expansion of the long-term healthcare system,” Joe Steier, CEO of Signature Healthcare, said in a news release. “We now know it can be used in almost any circumstance — not just during a pandemic — to connect family members together who may be miles away.

“But, as the pandemic continued, we started to see even more needs that could be met with telehealth which we had not considered before and that we now know will change the landscape of medicine and person-directed care.”

Signature Healthcare partnered with Louisville-based startup YourDoc2U LLC to bring telehealth into all of its facilities across 10 state markets in 2015. That roll out wrapped in 2019.

“Isolation was a big concern for anyone in long-term care, or just being at home. What we’ve all seen and realized is that this whole idea of isolation and not having the social ties that you’re accustomed to can lead to depression, anxiety and loneliness,” David Duggins, CEO of YourDoc2U, said in an interview.

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