Danniel DeGrave, a 70-year-old retired Wisconsin farmer, hoped the symptoms that brought him to the hospital would lead to a diagnosis of “simple” pneumonia and not COVID-19. “But it turned out that I did have the virus and my oxygen level was not good.”
Danniel says concern for his own health was complicated by worry about his wife, Linda, and his mother-in-law, who was in poor health and staying at their home after suffering a fall. “I was really hoping to go home, be with my family and stay out of the hospital.”
Danniel did get the care he needed in the comfort of his own home thanks to an innovative program launched by Advocate Aurora Post Acute Division in spring 2020. It is called Home Hospital and provides high-level care to very sick patients in their homes. Care is coordinated by advanced practice clinicians and is provided by home health nurses.
The program was created during the early wave of the pandemic, when many Advocate Aurora Health hospitals were experiencing alarming surges in the number of patients needing care. Home Hospital provides an option for extremely sick patients to get care at home, where they are safest, and makes it possible to reduce the burden on hospitals so they can take care of the sickest patients. The program started at three sites, but thanks to $50,000 from our COVID-19 Relief Fund for Critical Care, it’s now expanding to all Advocate Aurora Health sites.
Home Hospital offers the same exceptional care quality as Advocate Aurora hospitals. Patients can receive home oxygen and benefit from remote health monitoring with equipment that includes a thermometer, a blood pressure monitor and a pulse oximeter that is used to assess oxygen levels.
“I felt completely well cared for,” Danniel says. “My nurse, Sarah Paplham, was so wonderful. She visited every few days and we developed a great relationship. In between Sarah’s visits, I got calls on an IPAD from other nurses to talk about my vital signs and how I was progressing. That was wonderful. I could see them, and they could see me, and notice if there were any changes in my appearance that might be a problem. Even though we were far apart on those calls that gave me a feeling of connection.”
Home Hospital has had a strong impact on Advocate Aurora’s ability to ensure responsive care during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, 240 patients in Illinois and Wisconsin have recovered or are currently receiving care through this program. That includes approximately 60 patients in Wisconsin currently cared for through Home Hospital, with referrals to the program expected to rise.
Dawn Doe, RN, vice president of Value-Based Programs, Advocate Aurora Post Acute Division, leads the Home Hospital program. “Created in response to the pandemic, Home Hospital is now playing a key role in Advocate Aurora’s ability to care for increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19,” she says. “Importantly, this program will have long-lasting impact on patients with a range of serious illnesses and supports our belief that home is the best place to receive care whenever possible.”
Being home was important to Danniel DeGrave, who has now recovered and is back to enjoying life as a father of eight and grandfather of 15. He points out that the Home Hospital team was also very supportive of his wife and helped her facilitate her mother's admission to hospice and transfer to an assisted living facility in nearby Green Bay. During Danniel’s discharge visit, the DeGraves were emotional in expressing their appreciation for the program team. “They were caring for our whole family,” Danniel says. “That meant a lot to us.”
How you can help
You can help ensure people like Danniel have access to care where they need it most. Please consider making a gift to support our COVID-19 relief efforts today.