Gary Jackson couldn’t afford to be hospitalized, he had people waiting for his dress designs and deadlines that were rapidly approaching. But thanks to Parkland Health’s Hospital at Home program, Jackson met those design deadlines while receiving the care he needed at home.
The program offers high-quality, hospital-level care in the comfort of a patient’s home. There they receive care from physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses and other members of the care team. Similar programs have been approved in more than 200 hospitals across 36 states. The program is shown to reduce cost, readmissions, Emergency Department room utilization, radiology and lab utilization and falls while improving hospital capacity, patient and family satisfaction, patient activity, nutrition intake and quality of life.
To date, 17 patients have participated in Parkland’s Hospital at Home program, and plans are underway to expand the program in fiscal year 2023 so more patients who qualify can receive their care at home.
“Being a part of this program gave me the freedom to be home and continue working,” said Jackson, who was Parkland’s first Hospital at Home patient. “The entire process was very efficient and if I had a question, there was always someone available to help. I was most impressed that my doctor was coming to check on me, too.”
Along with registered nurses who make twice-daily visits to check vital signs, watch problem areas, administer medicine and provide supplies, a physician also makes house calls to check on patients, if needed, based on their clinical condition.
“All the care that a patient would receive in the hospital they receive at home,” said Monal Shah, MD, Executive Sponsor of Parkland’s Hospital at Home program, Senior Vice President and Associate Chief Medical Officer. “The only thing missing is the four walls of the hospital.”
Patients who qualify for the program are loaned equipment so members of the healthcare team can monitor continuous vital signs, know when a medication has been taken and assign tasks for the day. Registered nurses will take medications to patients’ homes and, if needed, patients will receive infusion therapy there as well. With the help of nurses, patients or their caregivers are trained to manage medications while vital signs are watched remotely. Imaging such as X-rays will be done at Parkland or one of its Community Oriented Primary Care health centers. As an added benefit, the Hospital at Home program provides all transportation and will make any necessary travel arrangements for them.
“We also pay attention to other factors that may influence a patient’s health or well-being,” Dr. Shah said. “For example, if patients do not have enough food at home, it can be hard for the body to heal. In that case, Parkland’s dietitians will order daily meals that will be delivered to their home.”
With doctor’s orders, a physical or occupational therapist may make a house call and give exercises that can be done in the home. In addition, social workers and care coordinators work with hospital staff about any referrals that may be needed as well as planning for when patients are discharged from the Hospital at Home program.
In Jackson’s case, the 60-year-old was an ideal candidate for the program because he was suffering from some kidney dysfunction and other conditions that could be managed at home. And, as the primary caregiver for his mother who had recently fallen, and a sister who had suffered a stroke, it was important that he get back home as soon as possible.
Beyond caring for Jackson, the team was also able to arrange for a home safety assessment to ensure that his mother would not be injured in another fall.
“I’ve told several people about the Hospital at Home program,” Jackson said. “I had the freedom to make my design deadlines while still being hooked up to an IV. That’s something I would never have been able to do if I was still in the hospital.”