Kari Freed

May 3, 2023
A photo of Kari Freed
Kari Freed

Care without leaving your car

Kari Freed, care manager of the UCHealth Outpatient Infusion Clinic at Anschutz Medical Campus and Lindsay Darling, an infusion nurse for UCHealth Lone Tree Medical Center (LTMC), watched through a small office window at LTMC as a sporty, white car zipped into the parking lot. The duo then grabbed a few supplies and excitedly ran outside to the driver’s side window.

“Welcome to curbside care,” said Freed smiling behind her mask to the patient.

The idea for offering medical care in a parking lot, an innovative and convenient practice, was over a year in the making. It started at a virtual conference where Freed heard about health care organizations providing patients with vaccines and flu shots, drive-thru style.

“If our ultimate goal is to remove barriers so our patients can get care, then I thought, ‘let’s do it,’” said Freed. “We’ve all been getting our groceries this way.”

The first step was deciding which medication would fit with the concept.

About 80 Prolia patients per month come to the infusion clinic for an appointment that lasts around 45 minutes. Many patients on Prolia, a medicine that makes bones stronger, are seniors, and some are in chronic pain and struggle with mobility or cognitive challenges.

“It’s a difficult, multiple hour process for many of these patients and their caregivers or families to park and navigate the hospital, and I think sometimes we forget that,” said Freed, who developed a proposal for delivering Prolia shots to patients, all from the comfort of their car. Prolia is tolerated well and doesn’t require observation – making it the ideal medicine to trial.

She received approval to pilot the program at Lone Tree, a less congested facility with ample space for vehicles, and got to work. Freed spent countless hours meeting with representatives from finance, legal, regulatory, logistics, patient experience and others. Next, she called Prolia patients asking if they would prefer coming to Lone Tree instead and getting their injection in their car.

“They were so grateful and excited,” said Freed. In fact, her first patient was so happy, when she got to Lone Tree, she jumped out of the car and took a selfie with Freed and Darling.

Currently, five medications are offered curbside, and the clinic is open 10 days per month. The program continues to grow and evolve as more patients are scheduling their visits curbside instead of in the infusion centers. Each appointment takes an average of six minutes. And it frees up space inside the infusion center and clinics at UCH and LTMC.

“So many more patients can be in infusion chairs getting treatment for cancer,” said Darling.

“I think we can do this for other medications and serve even more patients,” added Freed.

As her happy patient drove away, waving her arm outside her car window, Freed laughed at the license plate. It read, “JUZDOIT.”

“That’s fitting,” she said.

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