House calls making a comeback

Posted 10/19/23

The newer things get, the older they seem.

That appears to apply to the “new way” Kent Hospital is approaching hospital care.

Mayor Frank Picozzi wasn’t kidding Monday …

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House calls making a comeback


The newer things get, the older they seem.

That appears to apply to the “new way” Kent Hospital is approaching hospital care.

Mayor Frank Picozzi wasn’t kidding Monday when he told hospital administrators they are going back to its roots with house calls. Under the Hopital at Home program, patients deemed eligible are admitted to Kent but instead of being assigned to a bed they go home to get the same kind of attention at the hospital. This includes visit by doctors and nurses, monitoring of conditions available from technological advances and yes, even hospital meals.

The hospital launched the program several months ago. Currently it is working with ten at home patients that so far and it’s been whole heartedly endorsed by those using it.

“This is where we’re headed,” Paari Gopalakrishnan, MD, MBA, Kent president and COO told the mayor at a round table meeting following a tour of the hospital Monday morning. He said that at home care doesn’t necessarily reduce costs but it has shown to deliver better outcomes. Additionally, it frees up beds enabling the hospital to reduce waiting times for admissions.

While the program seems logical and is proving successful, Gopalakrishnan said, the “biggest barrier “ has been insurance coverage. Ideally, from the standpoint of efficiencies the program is suited for teams providing services to 20 to 25 patients.

Prior to admission to the program, hospital personnel visit the home. People living alone are not eligible. A major attraction and one Picozzi related to, is that patients are with their pets. Picozzi said his Labrador greets him when he gets home and is there by his side. He imagined the comfort it would provide if laid up to recover at home.

According to the hospital website Kent Hospital at Home patients have access to a range of hospital services such as IV medications, oxygen, diagnostic imaging, physical therapy, social work, and specialist consults. Patients receive a minimum of two nursing visits and one physician visit per day, almost always in person, with tele-health options available when necessary. Patients are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via a non-invasive and lightweight bio-patch worn by the patient and they can communicate with their nurse or doctor at any time of day or night.

Gopalakrishnan said the hospital would launch a campaign promoting the service. He also indicated putting all the pieces in place may also require legislative action. He didn’t go into details, however Picozzi volunteered his assistance.

Reflecting on the tour that started on the top floor and worked down, Picozzi remarked on the shortage of storage space and how equipment cluttered hallways. He found the emergency room crowded with patients waiting in cubbies with entries curtained off.

He was impressed with the size and reach of the hospital, the state’s second largest. Brian Willis, director of engineering, said the hospital sits on 57 acres and has 800,000 square feet of floor space in addition to 32 satellite operations. He said the “core” of its operations is Warwick and East Greenwich.

Gopalakrishnan said in addition to those patients undergoing treatment at the hospital, it is serving 200 outpatients daily.

As for Kent Hospital at Home, Gopalakrishnan said safety is a primary concern and he is working to remove all the barriers to making it happen.

According to the website, after discharge, the Hospital at Home team follows patients for 30 days to ensure they are on the right track with their treatment plan and to coordinate follow-up with outpatient providers. If necessary, the program can provide nursing visits or tele-health encounters with a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner during this period.

As the hospital describes, the program is generally appropriate for conditions with low rates of complications. This includes flare-ups of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, certain types of infections, and other conditions.

Kent, house calls, medical


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