Hospital-Level Care in the Comfort of Your Home

A hospital stay can be an overwhelming experience, and many patients “just want to be home.” Providers now have a local resource that allows people to recover in their homes – even when a patient requires a high level of medical care.

Covenant Health has announced a new innovative program, “Advanced Care at Home.” Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is the first in the region to offer around-the-clock hospital-level medical services, virtual care and remote monitoring for patients in the comfort and convenience of their own homes.

Commitment to Community

Mandy Grubb Halford, MD, senior vice president and chief medical informatics officer for Covenant Health, notes that providing hospital-level care at home has been shown to increase patient satisfaction and improve outcomes.

“This is an innovative step in transforming the future of healthcare delivery,” she said. “Advanced Care at Home is another ‘first’ in bringing virtual technology and dedicated medical professionals together to better serve our patients and communities, and it will be a tremendous addition to our patient care services.

“Fort Sanders Regional is a flagship hospital, not only of Covenant Health, but of our community,” says Dr. Halford. “This expansion of services brings health care to the home setting as well as the hospital setting. It reinforces the commitment of excellence that Fort Sanders Regional has exemplified for 100 years.”

In addition to Fort Sanders Regional, the program will be expanding to Covenant Health’s other acute-care hospitals in East Tennessee over the next two years.

Who is Eligible for Advanced Care at Home?

The program is designed for patients who require high-acuity care. Examples of medical conditions that might qualify include heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pneumonia, soft tissue infections, and gastroenteritis or dehydration.

Patients with these conditions may receive hospital-level medical support services including medication management, laboratory services, intravenous (IV) infusion services, rehabilitation therapies (physical, speech and occupational), oxygen treatments, X-ray and ultrasound, all inside the home.

A mobile health team visits the patient’s home twice daily. Nurse practitioners or physician assistants also make in-home visits, and depending on the person’s care plan, treatment may include other health care professionals such as physical and occupational therapists.

What Are the Benefits?

Covenant Health is using technology, remote patient monitoring and home-based treatments to expand access to health care regardless of a person’s mobility issues or physical location (such as distance from a hospital). “This service will be particularly valuable as the program expands to patients who live in rural areas served by our hospitals,” Dr. Halford notes. The in-home program also reduces stress on caregivers and loved ones by eliminating the time constraints of hospital visitation schedules.

The patient is monitored 24/7 by a team at a virtual care operations center. In addition to daily home visits, the patient can communicate with a provider at any time. This service has proven to reduce readmission rates to the emergency room and shorten hospital stays, helping to achieve better health outcomes while patients heal at home among family and friends.

Delivering Care at Home

Aaron Rittgers, MD, hospitalist with Advanced Care at Home, treated Fort Sanders Regional’s first at-home patient, a local woman suffering from a chronic case of COPD and asthma.

“Throughout the process, I was impressed by how easy it was for me to [communicate] with the nurse or the paramedics who were interacting with the patient,” Dr. Rittgers says. “I was able to have several ‘touches’ with the patient to discuss her questions.”

Dr. Rittgers noted the patient was able to sleep in her home and got a solid night’s sleep after five days in the hospital. “She was very pleased with how quickly we could deliver help and give her access to providers. She was in her home, so she felt like she had some control over the situation. Most importantly, she was not separated from her pets, which I know brought her comfort.”

He adds, “This team is one of the best I’ve ever been on while providing patient care. The nurses were top-notch, and the communication via the technology was excellent. I got to converse with the paramedics as well. We already have an impressive team assembled, just one week into the program. I can only imagine the possibilities of what Advanced Care at Home can do for our patients.”

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