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'Well, he’s my life. He’s my lifeline.' At-home hospital care keeping loved ones together

at home hospital care
Posted at 1:14 PM, Feb 25, 2022

PHOENIX, Ariz. — There are many reasons people avoid going to the hospital. A mobile solution could take roughly 40% of hospitalized patients and provide the same level of care in their homes.

For nearly 65 years, Dolores Wiese has been cooking up Ron Wiese's favorites. The two have been attached at the hip for as long as they can remember.

“I gave my friends five bucks to find out if I could take her out," Ron Wiese said while laughing.

When Ron was diagnosed with an infection, getting checked into the hospital wasn’t ideal.

“Can’t imagine. Can’t imagine what it would be like to not have him by my side," Delores Wiese said.

Luckily, leaving each other was a choice they never had to make.

“It was quite amazing to be able to get that kind of care in our own living room," Delores Wiese said.

The Phoenix-based medical team for DispatchHealth brought hospital-level care to their home. It's a personalized medical approach they are currently providing for another patient, Bob. He is being treated for heart failure, which is a diagnosis that easily could have put him in the hospital.

They currently have teams providing this kind of care in seven metro areas across the country, in addition to Phoenix. They include Denver, Seattle/Tacoma, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Richmond, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

“People who say, you know, 'I just heal so much better at home where I am in my home environment, where I have my people around me.' For a lot of people, their pets are actually a really important part of their healing process," said Dr. Patrick Kneelan, vice president for Medical Affairs with DispatchHealth. “We’re able to provide care that has as good of clinical outcomes if not better than the hospital, is as safe and probably safer than the hospital and can be delivered at a lower cost.”

A study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine found the average daily cost of a hospital stay is around $6,200, while the average cost of home health care is about $135 per visit. Advanced technology is giving advanced care teams more opportunities to bring things like diagnostic imaging and moderately complex laboratory into the home. 

“You think about things, like you need to be able to rule out a heart attack, for example, at the point of care right there in the home because we need to know is this patient safe for this model or do they need ICU level care. We’re able to bring the laboratories to rule out a heart attack we do the EKG heart tracing to rule out a heart attack right there," Kneeland said.

Dr. Vinay Shah and lead nurse practitioner Kristen Cox, are part of the team that visits these patients regularly.

“So, usually a lot of these things would be a minimum of two to three days in the hospital. Patients would have their ER visit. They would have to pay any co-pays they have or any deductibles before anything would be covered," Dr. Shah said.

At home, there's the benefit of being around loved ones.

“From having this perspective of working in ICUs and seeing family members coming in for a couple of hours a day and how the patient would light up in the hospital. Think about that magnified by 10,000," Cox said.

The science proves this works. John Hopkins published the first national study of at-home hospital care which found better clinical outcomes, a shorter average length of stay, fewer complications, and higher patient satisfaction.

“It’s important to be happy when you’re healing," Delores Wiese said. “When you’re at home and together and life is the same, mostly without the pain, you heal faster and better.”