HEALTH TRAIN EXPRESS
Follow or subscribe to Health Train Express as well as Digital Health Space for all the updates for health policy, reform, public health issues. Health Train Express is published several times a week.Subscribe and receive an email alert each time it is published. Health Train Express has been published since 2006.
Frequent medical visits had become a way of life earlier this year for John and Audrey Stanton of Hemet in Riverside County.
John, 86, suffered from serious eye problems; a painful skin infection called cellulitis, and more recently, repeated shortness of breath — all of which kept landing him in the hospital."It was one thing after another. Like the doctor said, 'Somebody is after you!'" Stanton laughs. And for his 81-year-old wife Audrey, the nearly two-hour drive to-and-from Kaiser in Riverside was a tough haul."I’m not a long distance driver so I had to be real careful," she says. "It was stressful."
But that stress dissipated last summer when John was admitted to the hospital — at home.
"I thought, 'Wow! This is amazing. I love this!'" he says. "This is what people need!"
Pneumonia, cellulitis or congestive heart failure Stanton is one of about 125 patients who’ve been enrolled in an experimental hospital at home program run out of Kaiser’s Permanente’s Riverside Medical Center. Launched two years ago, the program is designed for people who need treatment - typically only given in the hospital — for one of three conditions: pneumonia, cellulitis or congestive heart failure.
"Our goals are to have patients be safe at home and to have them recover at home and to have a high-quality experience," says Dr. Earl Quijada, one of three Kaiser doctors assigned to the program. Not every patient with one of the three conditions qualifies for the program. It's restricted to those who are not at risk for complications that could require more intensive care, says Dr. Nirav Shah, senior vice president and chief operating officer for clinical operations at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
"We ask if that patient wants to be admitted [to the hospital] or admitted at home," Shah says. "If they choose to be admitted at home, we'll send a truck home with them with all the equipment they need."
For John Stanton, the program saved two to three days in the hospital as well as a number of return trips for follow-up visits, Quijada says.
"Things are just so much more relaxed"
Stanton’s at-home care for a pneumonia diagnosis involved an intravenous antibiotic; a phlebotomist to check his blood and house calls from a nurse and Quijada. Hospital rounds — usually done by the patient's health care team in the hallway outside the patient's room — took place instead on the phone.