UNC Health Advanced Care at Home shortens hospital stays and saves money :: WRAL.com

A new program from UNC Health is allowing many patients to leave hospital earlier than they might have and receive acute-level care at home. It is a program that saves money for the patient and opens up much-needed bed space in the hospital.

Local UNC-TV legend Roy Underhill was a patient recently who took advantage of the new program. His TV show “The WoodWright Shop” is still shown on public television stations across the country.

“[It was] for 37 years. It’s one of the longest running programs on television,” said Underhill, who also teaches students how to use traditional woodworking tools instead of power tools.

HIs students come to his woodcarving school in Pittsboro, some from outside the US “In an upcoming semester, we have a student from Norway who has seen all the shows,” Underhill said.

Less than a month ago, a kidney infection drained the 70-year-old’s strength. “It’s known for sepsis and it’s fatal,” Underhill said.

He was in emergency care at UNC for 24 hours and is seen for another three days in acute level care. However, a new option was presented to Underhill. He describes it this way: “They had a new program and they said I could be home and they would provide me hospital care!”

It’s called Advanced Care at Home, and it includes a home health monitoring system, backup power supplies, telephony hardware, video through an iPad or even a button on a wristband.

“So they actually see a person either virtually or in person six to seven times a day,” said Ella Mapp, program managing director at UNC Health.

She says national data shows patients in the program recover more quickly. “It allows patients to feel more comfortable, and it allows them to be more in control,” Mapp said.

“These patients are not sick enough to stay in the hospital, but they are able to go home and still provide that acute care that they need,” she adds.

She says patients who receive home care are also less likely to have other hospital infections such as MRSA or even COVID-19.

Underhill was quick to accept the home care offer. He said, “You put your own clothes on, you’re in your bed and you get the medicine you need.”

It’s also less expensive to stay in the hospital, Underhill points out. “Free up a hospital bed,” he said, “it saves money, you get better faster. What’s not to like.”

He is also happy to be back in his home as well as inside his carpentry school, and to share his old talents of working in wood with the enthusiastic students.

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