New Hospital-At-Home Program Reaching Patients Where They Are

Last updated on May 30, 2023

Covenant Health is using technology, remote patient monitoring and home-based treatments to expand access to health care in people’s homes, regardless of a person’s mobility issues, visiting hour limitations or physical location, such as distance from a hospital.

The program, in partnership with Medically Home, Inc., is designed for patients who require high-acuity care. Patients can 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 in their home setting.

Conditions in which a patient might qualify include heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pneumonia, soft tissue infections, and gastroenteritis or dehydration to name a few.

John Busigin, MD, Medical Director of Advanced Care at Home

John Busigin, MD, hospital medicine specialist, is the medical director for Covenant Health Advanced Care at Home. Dr. Busigin has worked at Covenant Health hospitals since 2017 and says this program makes the future of health care shine a little brighter.

Dr. Busigin believes this new model for patient care will grow rapidly and be embraced by patients. He said, “Imagine receiving all the care for an illness that would typically require three to 10 days in a hospital, but in a safer environment and in the comfort of home. This program passes the “family test” in that it is what we would want for our own family members. I am excited by the opportunity to lead this change in health care.”

Ron’s Story

Ron Slone was the third patient to enter the Advanced Care at Home Program after it launched in March 2023. Slone is retired and lives with his wife, Jackie, in Farragut, Tennessee, and enjoys gardening, bicycling and spending time outdoors.

Ron Slone, Covenant Health Advanced Care at Home patient

After reporting some abdominal issues to his primary care doctor earlier this year, a CT scan revealed a large cyst on his liver 12 millimeters in size.

When Slone was told he needed surgery, he made sure he went to a Covenant Health facility. He was scheduled for surgery within the week of consultation due to the severity and risk of infection or rupture of the abscess. He was referred to a surgical oncologist at Fort Sanders Regional who performed a procedure to access the abscess and inserted a tube to let it drain.

At Fort Sanders Regional

After the drain tube was inserted in the hospital, Slone began receiving IV antibiotics every six hours to prevent infection. Slone reports all the doctors and nurses he interacted with were kind and helpful. “l was kept informed, all the nurses were extremely nice, and I couldn’t have had a better experience,” he said.

In the hospital, he learned about the new Advanced Care at Home program and his hospitalist determined that Slone was eligible. After four days at Fort Sanders Regional, Slone was transferred to the Advanced Care at Home program and remained under hospital-level care in the home setting until he was stable for discharge and able to transition to home health care.

He says, “The EMT personnel transported me to my home, and before I got there, the medical supply people had already set up the equipment I needed here to monitor my vitals. I was elated to be home. The food is better, and I can be around my family.”

The Advanced Care at Home program includes a tech kit, so that in addition to in-person visits from a community paramedic or other healthcare professional, the patient and loved ones have the ability to communicate with their care team 24/7 through a phone or tablet.

Transferring to Care at Home

“We had this communication device, a tablet to video chat with the nurse,” Slone says. “The Global Medical Response people came about four times per day and each time administered the meds and took my vitals.”

Slone recalls, “When they changed my schedule to receive antibiotics once per day, that made things a lot better. I was home and comfortable. Because I could get up and walk around, that helped. I still had the tubes and drains, but being sequestered at home rather than the hospital made a lot more sense to me.”

“My wife and I were both extremely pleased with the entire experience,” he said. “I will continue with my follow-up appointments to get drain tubes removed, but I am on the way to recovery.”

He adds, “The experience was incredible. When you’re sick, you have a lot of things to worry about. This helped me through the feelings and fear of unknown and having people like the hospitalist or nurse talk to me one-on-one made a big difference; I was pleased with that.

“Every single person I encountered was very friendly and knowledgeable. Anyone who qualifies for this would be wise to try it. I’m very optimistic and fortunate to have great people to help me.”

The Advanced Care at Home program is offered through Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville and will be available to patients receiving care from Covenant Health’s other acute-care hospitals throughout East Tennessee by the end of 2024. This service will be particularly valuable as the program expands to patients who live in rural areas served by our hospitals.

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