Amid a Crisis, Helping Hands
From creating a hub for exchanging critically needed resources to coordinating large-scale contact tracing and vaccination efforts, Dell Med teams are working as part of a collaborative UT Austin effort to respond to COVID-19.
In the early days of the pandemic, when personal protective equipment, or PPE, and other resources were badly needed, Dell Med initiated the COVID-19 ATX Exchange, a platform for rapid vetting of local needs and matchmaking. More than 100,000 items were exchanged.
Another effort, the Central Texas Check-In, has connected more than 550 families with 1,000+ referrals for local support services, resources and PPE. Dell Med’s Department of Population Health leads this ongoing effort through a partnership with the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, the UTHealth School of Public Health and Austin Public Health.
Demand for social distancing, quarantining and isolation made meeting basic needs like food access difficult at times.
Good Apple, founded by Dell Med students and funded through direct revenue and philanthropy, has provided 27,000+ low-income older adults and others facing food insecurity with free or subsidized fresh produce and groceries in direct response to COVID-19. Its “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” initiative was a collaboration with Welcome Table and Capital Metro.
Good Apple: How It Works
Good Apple is a service that delivers local, organic produce boxes to homes in Travis County. It’s a “one-for-one” model: For every box purchased, Good Apple delivers another box of fresh food to a family in need.
Dell Med alum Zack Timmons had the idea for the service while he was a medical student, and developed it during his third year of study, when students are encouraged to pursue independent projects. Timmons’ focus was on entrepreneurship.
Slowing the Spread
Dell Med’s contract tracing program was a source of early support and expertise for partners across Central Texas as teams trained in this vital containment function.
The university’s vaccine hub, a collaboration that includes Dell Med, has administered more than 140,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including shots for more than 2,500 health care workers — all highly effective at preventing severe disease and slowing contagion.
UT Health Austin, the clinical practice of Dell Med, and Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare Health Centers coordinated vaccination efforts for homeless shelter residents and staff with an 80% vaccine return rate.
Two mobile programs — VaxNow and Vaccination Administration Mobile Operations, or VAMOS — have vaccinated people from communities most affected by COVID-19 at more than 25 local churches and community sites, as well as in homes. The School of Nursing leads the effort, supported by the vaccine hub.
A collaborative effort between Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas teams and Dell Med faculty and residents created a nationally recognized COVID-19 Center of Excellence at Dell Seton, resulting in hospital mortality rates 33% lower than the national average for COVID-19 patients with social and medical complexities.
By March 2021, at least 75 more people had survived than would have been expected based on national averages.
Mortality rates for patients hospitalized at Dell Seton with severe COVID-19 were 4% lower than the national average (8% vs. 12%).
The hospital also had a lower COVID 30-day readmission rate of 4% for COVID-19 patients, compared to published data showing 15% readmission rates elsewhere.