COLLINGWOOD, ONT. -- Health care teams in South Georgian Bay use a new monitoring program to keep close tabs on high-risk COVID-19 patients who have gone home.

The program is a cooperative effort between the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, the Georgian Bay Family Health Team and the London Health Sciences Centre to prevent the dangers of silent hypoxia in patients who tested positive for the virus.

Silent hypoxia can occur when a patient's oxygen levels fall dangerously low. If not cared for, it can cause serious health complications, including respiratory failure.

"Patients with COVID-19 may only have mild symptoms when they are first diagnosed, but things can progress quickly, especially from day five to 10 days after the onset of symptoms," said Dr. Mark Quigg, Family Physician, Georgian Bay Family Health Team.

"We want to intervene earlier, so we are not having that sudden impact on our already diminishing resources," said Gaynor Edwards, a registered nurse with the Georgian Bay Family Health Team.

The program has already resulted in more than a dozen medical interventions of patients who are at home.

May Porter has been enrolled in the program since her COVID-19 diagnosis in early January. "Soon as you go on the program, and every single day you speak to the nurse practitioner, she will tell you what to watch out for, like fever and different things and any doubts you go to the hospital," Porter said.

Public health, a family physician, or the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (upon discharge) can refer patients into the COVID-19 Home Monitoring Program.