by Matt Batcheldor
When Denis Brock had to be hospitalized for an infection last fall, she was treated in an unlikely place: her home.
Brock was one of the first patients to participate in Vanderbilt’s Hospital at Home program, which allows patients to stay in the comfort of their own home while receiving treatment for acute medical conditions that would previously have required hospitalization.
Brock suffers from multiple sclerosis and the chronic infections that result from it that need to be closely monitored to prevent sepsis. His condition would sometimes require hospitalization.
When the Hospital at Home program started in November 2021, she had the option of being treated at home. Brock easily signed up.
“Nowadays it’s so big that patients have a choice,” she said. “There are a lot of sick people in the hospital and not having to be there and having first class care at home in your own bed with your own pillow and your own dog licking your hands… it was really to first order.
Here’s how the program works: Vanderbilt nurses and providers help determine if an inpatient is appropriate for the program, considering both clinical safety and home safety. The patient and caregivers are then committed and agree to have home care. Transport to the patient’s home will be arranged, and a nurse will see the patient upon arrival at home and set up a remote patient monitoring system that will allow the team to monitor basic vital signs.
Patients are given a tablet with a simple button that allows them to connect to the care team via telehealth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “I could just touch the tablet, and someone was on the other I could see his face and talk back and forth,” Brock said.
Nurses and nurse practitioners visit at least twice a day to convey the care plan and manage medications, vital signs, and communication with the patient and family. Depending on the patient’s diagnosis, supplies, medications or therapy services are provided at home.
“There were no big surprises,” Brock said. “I was really comfortable with it.”
The program accepts patients who are clinically appropriate for hospitalization at home and who have been assessed in the VUMC emergency department or in a hospital setting.
The care team represents the expertise of Vanderbilt Home Care, Hospital Medicine and Vanderbilt University Hospital and includes nurses, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, nurse practitioners and physicians. Associated with caregivers are those who provide transport, food, medical equipment, medication and access to telehealth and remote imaging services.
“Our goal is to continually strive to make health care more personal,” said Tara Horr, MD, medical director of Hospital at Home and assistant professor of medicine. “By providing care to our hospitalized patients in their homes, we are able to help them recover where they are most comfortable and provide interventions that set them up for success after discharge.”
Brock said she is very excited about the Hospital at Home program.
“There’s no place like home,” she said.