Hospital-Level Care in the Comfort of You 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.” Covenant Health 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.

Earlier this year, the new program was launched at Covenant Health’s Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. At the end of
August, Advanced Care at Home is expanding to Parkwest Medical Center, also a member of Covenant Health. The program will be implemented at Covenant Health’s other acute-care hospitals in East Tennessee over the next two years.

Commitment to Community

Mandy Grubb Halford, MD
Chief Medical Officer,
Covenant Health

Mandy Grubb Halford, MD, senior vice president, chief medical officer, 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.

“This expansion of services brings health care to the home setting as well as the hospital setting,” says Dr. Halford. “This program will help the communities who already trust Parkwest with their healthcare, and this is another way we can serve people in this area.”

Who is Eligible for Advanced Care at Home?

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

Aaron Rittgers, MD, hospitalist with Advanced Care at Home, treated 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 have an impressive team assembled, and I can only imagine the possibilities of what Advanced Care at Home can do for our patients.”

Taking a Next Step for Advanced Care at Home

Emergency Medical Professionals Become Certified as Community Paramedics

Abby Williamson, community paramedic, takes vital signs during a home visit as part
of Covenant Health’s new initiative, Advanced Care at Home. Community paramedics
from Global Medical Response can provide high-acuity medical services such as X-rays,
ultrasounds, catheters and IVs for patients in their homes.

Community paramedics are a vital part of the Advanced Care at Home program. These licensed EMS professionals complete a formal standardized educational program approved by the state EMS Board. Individuals must have at least five years of experience as a paramedic to qualify for the additional training, but many have more than 15 years of experience.

Recently, 10 graduates of community paramedic training became part of the care team for the Advanced Care at Home program.

To qualify as a community paramedic, the EMS professional must demonstrate competence in providing health education, monitoring, and services beyond the roles of traditional emergency care and transport, and must work in conjunction with medical direction.

Global Medical Response is an emergency and patient relocation service in the United States and around the world. Covenant Health is collaborating with Global Medical Response (GMR) to ensure that trained emergency medical professionals are delivering quality, hospital-level care alongside the nurses and therapists entering a patient’s home.

Thanks to a unique “Earn While You Learn” program, trainees receive paid on-the-job training while taking the necessary certification courses to become community paramedics. Following successful completion of the program, the community paramedics are given the opportunity to become full-time employees.

By deploying more highly trained community paramedics to provide high-acuity care, Covenant Health is better able to deliver the right care to patients at the right time.
place and the right time.

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  • Advanced Care at Home
  • Parkwest Medical Center

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