Skip to Main Content

Gifted Oximeters Help Those Infected With COVID-19 Monitor Their Recovery at Home

May 14, 2020
by Pamela Hartley

The Department of Internal Medicine is grateful to have received a generous philanthropic gift of 100 wearable pulse oximeters from Norwalk resident and investment banker Anne Yang. These health-monitoring devices are being distributed to selected Yale clinicians and patients who have been infected with COVID-19 and sent home or discharged to recover. Worn comfortably on one’s finger, the oximeter rings monitor the wearer’s blood oxygen level and heart rate 24 hours a day.

Eager to help in the fight against COVID-19 and concerned for the safety of Yale’s COVID-19 healthcare workers, Yang, a Hopkins School parent, had reached out to a friend who is also a Hopkins parent, Naftali Kaminski, MD, to ask how she could help. Kaminski, chief of the Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine, was at the time very concerned about the dangerous shifts in blood oxygen levels and heart rates that could develop undetected in people with COVID-19 and signal a downturn in health. He suggested that a gift of oximeter rings for infected healthcare workers who were staying at home to recover from the disease would be extremely useful. Kaminski believed the oximeters would be a valuable tool these individuals could use at home to see if their COVID-19 disease state was improving or worsening.

Yang agreed. An article she had read recently in The New York Times reinforced this conclusion. After Kaminski and Yang located the right supplier, Yang purchased the oximeter rings and gifted them to Yale.

“I was delighted to help by donating a monitoring solution,” said Yang. “Testing is a first line of defense against COVID-19. Monitoring solutions are an important next step… until we have a vaccine.”

As of May 8, twenty of the gifted oximeter rings had been distributed to Yale residents and nurses who had treated COVID-19 patients and were themselves recovering from the virus at home. The devices not only enable self-monitoring but are also equipped with alarms that sound automatically if measurements jump to dangerous levels.

“It’s incredibly reassuring to have these monitoring devices on hand; they’re giving infected clinicians peace of mind as they recover,” Kaminski said.

Decisions about who receives the oximeters are made by a small committee that Kaminski formed. The committee will also be exploring ways to leverage the devices beyond COVID-19 disease state monitoring. It is investigating whether information the devices track could inform therapeutic decisions, and whether Yale clinicians could incorporate home-use oximeters more broadly into the standard of care for patients with certain lung diseases or other conditions, distributing the devices to patients routinely upon discharge and incorporating their readouts into next-generation telemedicine strategies. The committee has also established the Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine (PCCSM) Resource Fund to continue to advance this initiative.

Kaminski concluded, “It was heartwarming to have friends and community members reach out and ask how they could help because—for us on the front lines—knowing that they thought about us, that they were willing to help, was the biggest gift.”

 

If you are interested in making a gift to support COVID-19 or other research within YSM’s Department of Internal Medicine, please contact Erin Shreve in the Office of Development at (401) 465-2458 or erin.shreve@yale.edu.

Submitted by Julie Parry on May 14, 2020