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B.C. expands 'Hospital at Home' program to Vancouver

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A program that allows patients to receive hospital-level care in their own homes is now available in Vancouver, the province says.

Officials announced the expansion of the Hospital at Home program Friday, saying the voluntary program has the potential to decrease risk for patients and to mitigate some of the strains on the overburdened acute care system.

“Giving patients the option to receive safe and individualized care in their own homes not only helps with the recovery of the patient, but it also benefits the health-care system,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement.

The option will be offered by a number of hospitals including Vancouver General, St. Paul’s and UBC. Patients who are eligible are those diagnosed with conditions including sepsis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dehydration. An on-call bell and phone number connects the patient to a team of medial professionals 24/7 and nurses make daily visits, according to officials. Currently, the program has the capacity to support up to 18 patients at a time.

Patients must live within Vancouver so they can be transferred to hospital fairly quickly if needed and so that care teams can make home visits without spending too much time on the road travelling. People who choose the Hospital at Home option can also opt out if they decide they would prefer to receive inpatient care.

Ricardo Garcia, a patient who said he jumped at the chance to volunteer, described some of what made the experience appealing.

“I wanted to be in my own bed. The care was great and I liked being in the comfort of my own home. I could eat my own food and chill on my own couch,” he said in a statement.

In addition to increasing patients’ comfort and independence, the program also reduces the potential for hospital-acquired infections.

A spokesperson for the Hospital Employees’ Union said its members welcome the move.

“Better access to publicly delivered health services for home care recipients means more people can recover from home with the dignity and comfort they deserve,” Lynn Bueckert said in a media release Friday.

“Supporting patients to recover at home helps relieve pressure on urgent care centres, hospitals, and emergency departments.”

The program has been operating in the Island Health region since 2020, and the province estimates the 18 beds added to the system’s capacity has resulted in an additional 17,500 days of treatment.

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