It's no secret that patients usually heal better in their own home environment rather than in a hospital.

That's why Virtua Health has become the first South Jersey health system in the Philadelphia region to bring hospital-level care into select patients' homes with its Hospital at Home program.

It is an innovative initiative that allows eligible patients who meet certain criteria to heal from their homes instead of a hospital room.

Virtua Health Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Matsinger said patients will receive the same level of care and attention at home as they would if they were in a hospital. The program also offers hospitals and patients the advantage of helping with the overcrowding in hospitals due to the COVID-19 surge.

The model also allows family members and caregivers to directly support program participating patients, which is not always possible due to hospital visitor restrictions in response to the pandemic.

Matsinger said this program is not for patients who need critical care. This is more for patients who need general medical care from a hospital.

"If you're a patient who comes in who needs a couple of days of intravenous therapy, and you're stable, then this is the right program for you," Matsinger said.

Right now, Virtua is offering select patients at Virtua Voorhees Hospital whose COVID-19 treatment can safely transition from the inpatient unit to the person's home.

Currently, there are two COVID patients enrolled in the program. They are receiving intravenous therapy but have stabilized and doing well. They just need a couple of more days of anti-viral therapy. They are being sent home with all the support they need and they can receive the last two to three days of treatment at home.

But in the weeks ahead, the program will expand to include other Virtua hospitals and extend to health conditions beyond COVID-19.

Patients must also be able to provide the right home dynamics for the program to be successful. He said they must have heat and electricity and the home must be the right clinical scenario. 

Home visits from hospital staff

Each patient at home will receive twice-daily visits from Virtua staff. Remote monitoring services are used to watch and monitor blood pressure, pulse oxygen, heart rhythm, and telemetry.

Routine remote consultations with a physician or other licensed provider are available as well as around-the-clock support from the Hospital at Home Command Center.

Matsinger said if needed, easy-to-heat nutritious meals can also be provided as well as other ancillary services such as imaging, lab services, therapy, and pharmacy.

"We're bringing the technology and tools of the hospital right into the home so people can be where they want to be, be with their family and loved ones, and be comfortable," he said.

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