"It became clear that with the pandemic, we really had to identify how we could grow and have the ability to take care of patients without building buildings," said Dr. John Dingilian, Chief Medical Officer at Adventist Health Simi Valley.
Dingilian and his Adventist Health colleagues are the first in Southern California to launch a potential solution called the virtual "hospital at home."
Patients receive acute care from the comfort of their own bed.
"If a patient needs something in the hospital, they press their call light and someone answers immediately," said Stella Riddell, Administrative Director of Nursing Operations. "The same concept holds true to a patient being at home."
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High-tech gadgets such as a tablet and a computerized watch allow staff based at the hospital's command center to monitor a patient's blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen. A rapid response team of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and X-ray techs stand at the ready.
"The system of care is set up so that the patient is in immediate contact with whatever health care service they need," Dingilian said. "We're starting out with diagnoses that we feel we can care for appropriately. Things like cellulitis, early pneumonia, asthma and COPD exacerbations."
Services are billed just like in a hospital. Wi-Fi connections are backed up with fail safes. Nurses say being at home may be just what the doctor ordered.
"They have their animals with them at home," Riddell said. "Family to be supportive who really take care of them. I think that's a huge benefit to really help patients heal faster."
The impact of coronavirus has shown us how we need to be able to expand hospital capacity immediately. Initial Southern California service areas include Glendale, Simi Valley, Los Angeles and Bakersfield.