‘A Completely Different Kind of Medicine'— Healing With Families, Pets and Comfort Through Hospital Care at Home

‘A Completely Different Kind of Medicine'— Healing With Families, Pets and Comfort Through Hospital Care at Home

April 30, 20243 min read

The ChristianaCare Hospital Care at Home program, a national leader in providing acute care in a place most familiar to patients – their own homes – has reached a new milestone with more than 1,000 admissions since opening in December 2021.

ChristianaCare’s innovative program enables patients with common chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure and diabetes complications, as well as infections like pneumonia, to receive hospital-level care at home through virtual and in-person care provided by a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, paramedics and others.

Technology kits deployed to patient homes ensure round-the-clock access to a health care professional, along with twice daily visits from caregivers, medication deliveries and mobile laboratory services.

‘Absolutely amazing’ for patients

Patients are evaluated for the hospital care at home program when they come to Wilmington or Christiana hospital emergency departments. Those who can be treated at home receive a technology kit that connects them to the command center, powered by the ChristianaCare Center for Virtual Health.

With a touch of a button, they can access an expert team of ChristianaCare doctors and nurses. But hospital care at home isn’t just virtual care — the technology supports an entire care team that works inside the patient’s home and remotely to provide optimal support at all times — just like in a hospital.

Carol Bieber, whose 98-year-old father Bill has been a hospital care at home patient, sees the difference it makes for him to wake up in his own bed, sit in his own living room and still get the care he needs to get better.

“The whole hospital care at home experience is really calm and easy and familiar to him,” said Bieber, who lives in Newark, Delaware. “My dad is a people person, so to be able to connect with everybody who comes in to see him or talk to him on the screen is just amazing.”

Innovative solutions for in-home care

ChristianaCare’s Hospital Care at Home program was developed in 2021 after the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) began the Acute Hospital Care at Home waiver program to allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive acute-level health care services in their home.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, who represents Delaware, worked to pass the bipartisan “Hospital Inpatient Services Modernization Act” in 2023 that extended this program. Last month. Sen. Carper introduced the bipartisan “At-Home Observation and Medical Evaluation (HOME) Services Act” that would expand this lifesaving and cost-saving program.

“Hospital at Home – which grew out of the COVID pandemic – was an opportunity for us to meet seniors where they are,” Carper said. “It has delivered positive outcomes, higher patient satisfaction, and saves money.”

Sarah Schenck, M.D., FACP, executive director of the ChristianaCare Center for Virtual Health, said the hospital care at home program has yielded lower readmission rates than brick-and-mortar hospitals. Patient experience scores are about three times higher than a national average traditional hospital experience.

“We’ve been conditioned to believe that care only happens within the four walls of a hospital. For our patients who have loved ones at home or their pets, a favorite chair or favorite food, they’re now able to have all of that as they heal,” Schenck said.

“Once our patients have experienced this, what we hear from them is that they are truly grateful.”

Promoting healing – at home

Helping patients recover in their homes also has been transformational for caregivers who get to see a different side of their patients and better understand what they need to successfully recover.

“I can’t express how much I enjoy the patients and their families,” said Heather Orkis, a paramedic with Hospital Care at Home.

“To be able to enjoy the family and see these people get better in their own homes, with their families, their grandkids, their dogs, their cats – it’s just a completely different kind of medicine.”

For Bill Bieber’s family, hospital care at home is more than health care.

“It’s just the best thing ever,” Carol Bieber said.

Connect with:
  • Sarah Schenck, M.D., FACP
    Sarah Schenck, M.D., FACP Executive Director for ChristianaCare's Center for Virtual Health

    Dr. Sarah Schenck is an expert in practice transformation for Primary Care and leads ChristianaCare's COVID-19 Virtual Practice.

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