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Oregon Launches to Relieve 911 Services and Mitigate Hospital Overcrowding from COVID-19 in City of Portland and surrounding areas.

Today, residents in Portland and surrounding counties have a free, online way to check their risk of COVID-19 at, with a first-of-its kind local directory to help those in-need find the most appropriate emergency services. The solution is an innovative collaboration among Portland Fire & Rescue and Vital Software, makers of, built in conjunction with Emory University. The companies are also in discussion with OHSU. Other communities interested in standing up their own customized and localized solutions can stand them up with Vital in a matter of days.

The original tool was designed to help the general public self-triage before heading to a hospital, with the goal of alleviating the current pressure on our healthcare systems and 911 call centers; takes it a step further, integrating into City and County services to direct at-risk patients to appropriate emergency services. The site is for educational purposes and not a replacement for a healthcare provider evaluation.

“During the surge of COVID-19 cases, emergency medical teams will have difficulty getting to those most in-need of assistance because we will be inundated by the mild and moderately sick,” said Rich Chatman, Public Information Officer and Fire Lieutenant at Portland Fire & Rescue. “We experienced this with grave results as part of the emergency response team during Hurricane Katrina, and want to do everything in our power to help keep our ‘worried well’ at home, while we identify the sickest in our communities so that we can be best prepared with personnel and equipment to effectively treat them.”

How They Built It:

  • To quickly stand up a solution, Lt. Chatman and his team sought a solution that needed to meet stringent requirements, including:
  • Off-the-Shelf Availability: Presented a quick “go-live” opportunity
  • Device Agnostic: Mobile and multi-platform friendly
  • Customizable: Separates patients into medical triage specific and customizable groups
  • Localized Recommendations: Clinic and hospital recommendations can be changed according to real-time patient load information
  • Accessible: Ready to serve the houseless, cross language barriers, and serve the sight/hearing impaired

“The fact that we were able to quickly stand-up a solution that not only serves our underserved and most vulnerable populations, but to also do so at a low-cost that’ll only remain on our balance sheet as long as this pandemic persists was amazing,” continued Chatman.

With the help of tech consultant Ben Diggles, Portland Fire & Rescue decided to look at existing solutions, and after examining the CDC’s tool, Apple’s checker and Vital’s, reached out to the team behind the last because it matched all of its requirements and had a team available to drive an integration and localization. Already available in 15 languages, available as a simple web app, and designed from the beginning to maximize accessibility, Vital was the natural fit.

“We’re all fighting, in ways big and small, to keep our loved ones out of harm’s reach. But the anxiety and uncertainty around the best way to do that can result in crowded emergency departments that will have difficulty managing the surge,” said Justin Schrager, Doctor of Emergency Medicine at Emory University Hospital and co-founder of Vital. “Our goal with the COVID-19 self-triage in Oregon is to prevent that from happening, while also making it super simple for people to understand and follow CDC guidelines -- and being able to serve as the backbone for localized services is a huge benefit.”

How it Works: acts as an easy way to digest expert information and choose the best plan of action. Based on the answers to questions about signs and symptoms, age, and other medical problems, a person is directed to guidance based on CDC guidelines and is placed into one of three categories:

  • High Risk: Needs immediate medical attention
  • Intermediate Risk: Can contact a doctor for guidance about how to best manage their illness
  • Low Risk: Can most likely administer self-care or recover at home, based on CDC guidelines (built into the product)

In each case, the person is never dissuaded from seeking professional medical advice or contacting their healthcare provider for more guidance.

The site is live now, and will be available for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. It was built as a public service and is completely free. It is available on any computer, and can be used by medical professionals or lay people. Already available in 20 languages, recently augmented to best support the region’s diverse communities. Portland Fire & Rescue is working with Harbor to get the word out to the entire population to help flatten the curve in the region.

To Quickly and Inexpensively Replicate, It’s Easy:
For First Responders, Community Organizers or State or County Officials, and all-in-one online COVID-19 Toolkit can be found at, for an easy, fast and inexpensive way to create a customized COVID-19 symptom checker and analytics for states and communities. The site provides State Specific Instructions, ability to add a brand identity, setup in days (or hours), and the ability to offer in 20+ languages to best suit your community of need.

The goal of these custom offers is to give communities custom call instructions and health system resources, based on symptom, location and risk level; and to direct people who can stay home to do so, decompress 911 and hospital resources while following CDC guidelines.

About The site, built at Emory with Dr. Alex Isakov, Executive Director of Emory CEPAR, and Co-Author of the SORT algorithm; and Dr. David Wright, Chair of the Emory Emergency Department, is powered by Vital, launched last year to help offset the already overloaded work of Emergency Departments. Founded by Justin Schrager, MD, MPH, an Emergency Room doctor with Emory Healthcare and Aaron Patzer, founder of With the rise of COVID-19, Justin and Aaron foresaw an overload of ERs worldwide, sought a tool to help patients better self-triage before burdening hospitals, and found none. They diverted all of Vital’s resources into building, tapped world-renowned clinical experts to help, and hope that the tool will both help alleviate the mounting burden on the global healthcare system, and aid researchers in tracking the spread and evolution of the pandemic over time.

Read the full story at

Source: PRWeb
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