House calls program brings COVID-19 vaccine to homebound patients

UAB’s House Calls program is bringing COVID-19 vaccines to homebound patients and their eligible caregivers who live within 30-40 miles from UAB.

A Black female is getting vaccinated against COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) by a health care worker. UAB’s House Calls program is bringing COVID-19 vaccines to homebound patients and their eligible caregivers who live within 30-40 miles from UAB.
(Photography: Andrea Mabry)
Some of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 are those who are unable to leave their homes due to an illness or physical condition yet are at risk of contracting the disease if a caregiver or health care provider inadvertently brings the virus into their home. To protect this vulnerable population of people in the Birmingham area, members of the House Calls team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are bringing the vaccine to homebound patients and their eligible caregivers who live within 40 miles of UAB. 

House Calls began in 2015 as a means to provide in-home medical care to patients who cannot travel to their doctor’s office for appointments. The House Calls providers work together as part of an interdisciplinary team made up of a physician, nurse practitioners, medical assistants and a social worker.  

When the COVID-19 vaccines became available, members of the team began offering vaccination in patients’ homes on March 15. The House Calls program has administered approximately 400 vaccines to date.

“The vast majority of our patients never leave their home due to extreme frailty, multiple chronic conditions, and functional and/or cognitive limitations. They are among the most vulnerable people in our population and are at the highest risk of serious illness and death from COVID and other infectious diseases,” said Marianthe Grammas, M.D., associate professor in UAB’s Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care. “Many of them are exposed to a number of different caregivers coming in and out of the home, all of whom have the potential to spread infection to the patient.”

According to Grammas, vaccinating the caregivers is equally important as many are homebound as they cannot leave their loved one alone. Grammas says bringing the vaccine to eligible patients and caregivers is a key part of preventing a COVID-19 infection. It is a lifesaving intervention.  

“The caregivers do not have to worry about how they would get their loved one to a vaccine site for inoculation. In many of their situations, this would be nearly impossible,” Grammas said. “This not only protects them but further enhances the protection to our patient, the recipient of their care.” 

Grammas says vaccinating their patients at home has been a team effort, with help from members of the pharmacy, resource utilization and vaccine distribution teams at UAB.  

The House Calls program cares for homebound patients within a 40-mile radius of UAB. To book an appointment, call 205-504-6098 Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.