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St. Bernards Receives Federal Approval to Provide Hospital-Level Care within Patients’ Homes

Jan 08, 2021

St. Bernards Medical Center received approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) this week to begin providing hospital-level care within patients’ homes.

The program, St. Bernards AcuteHealth at Home (SBAH), gives eligible patients the care they need at home, providing time with family and caregivers without visitation restrictions. CMS granted the waiver to St. Bernards following a rigorous review for protocols, safety and quality assurances. To ensure appropriate at-home hospital care, SBAH care includes daily evaluations from a physician and registered nurses—either in person or remotely—and two in-person visits from registered nurses or mobile integrated health paramedics.

St. Bernards Healthcare President and CEO Chris Barber said the hospital will begin accepting its first home patients within the coming weeks.

“We anticipate this model resulting in improved patient experiences, outcomes and reduced healthcare costs as individuals receive hospital-level care from the comforts of home,” Barber said. “St. Bernards appreciates CMS granting this waiver and the vision the agency shares with Provider Health Systems to improve patient care throughout Arkansas.”

SBAH-eligible patients require admittance from an emergency department or an inpatient hospital bed. In addition, they receive screenings for both medical and non-medical factors, including the presence of working utilities, an assessment of physical barriers and a review of domestic violence concerns.

As background, SBAH operates within CMS’s Acute Hospital Care at Home program and its parent program, Hospital without Walls. Hospital without Walls, launched in March 2020, provides flexibility for hospitals to provide services in locations beyond existing facilities. Meanwhile, the Acute Hospital Care at Home program, launched in November 2020, expands its parent program by allowing health systems to treat eligible patients at home.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said a new level of crisis response with COVID-19 prompted the agency to leverage innovations and technology so healthcare systems can increase capacity while making sure patients get the care they need.

“With new areas across the country experiencing significant challenges to the capacity of their care systems,” Administrator Verma said, “our job is to make sure that CMS regulations are not standing in the way of patient care for COVID-19 and beyond.”

To date, 63 acute-care hospitals across the country have applied for and received a waiver from CMS for the Acute Hospital Care at Home program.