LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have inundated local medical centers. But throughout this pandemic, one Kaiser Permanente has found a safe way to keep more patients out of the hospital. It's a program that's allowed people to do their healing at home.
Vern Galliher, 75, got swept up in the post-holiday coronavirus surge.
"The first day, I didn't know I was going to live," he said.
Galliher's wife, Diane, found him slumped in his recliner. She called 911.
"I pretty much knew what it was at that point." she said.
Galliher was struggling to breathe when he was admitted into Kaiser Permanente Moreno Valley Medical Center.
The couple, who are recent cancer survivors, have never been apart..
"We became best friends and fell in love," Diane said.
COVID-19 hit Galliher on their second wedding anniversary. After a few days, he started to turn the corner. But instead of staying in the hospital, doctors offered him a way to be monitored in the comfort of his own home.
"Our patients are sent home with what we call a COVID kit," said Dr. Dan Huynh, Kaiser Permanente's Regional Physician Director of Home Care Services.
The kit includes a thermometer, a pulse oximeter and an interactive app that allows doctors to intervene immediately 24/7. Since April, about 15,000 patients have gone through Kaiser Permanente's Southern California COVID-19 Home Monitoring Program.
"I have the confidence that if I discharge this patient home, that they're going to be monitored by our nurses and physicians," Huynh said.
Depending on their symptoms, doctors can admit patients directly into at-home care reducing hospitalizations.
"We feel that patients absolutely recover better getting the care in the comfort of their own home, being able to walk more freely in their home versus being confined in a hospital bed," Huynh said.
After two weeks, Galliher recovered. He said his wife's home-cooked meals helped.
"My wife was pumping good food into me to get my strength back," he said.
While the hospital first brought them together, they're grateful not to spend so much time in it.
"I felt so much better with him being home, and us doing it together. So Kaiser is a good place for us," Diane said.