RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – A program started to free up WakeMed hospital beds during the COVID-19 pandemic is seeing two to three times more patients than they were just weeks ago.
This comes as hospital systems in the Triangle are working to save critical bed space.
Tres Pittman, executive medical director of hospital and specialty medicine at WakeMed, said the system’s hospitals are overwhelmed and more patients are waiting in emergency departments longer for beds.
“We have more in our hospital and so we have more patients who we can offer this service to who are choosing to go into it,” Pittman said.
The WakeMed Hospital at Home program started because of the pandemic a year ago and allows people to get heightened medical care from their house. It’s a tool being used more now during the surge of COVID-19 cases.
“It’s two to threefold what it was a few weeks ago before we began to see more delta variant patients,” Pittman said.
EMS staff visits each patient in person twice a day and their doctor or provider connects over video chat.
Patients have to live in Wake or a neighboring county and have a support system or caregiver at home.
“So, if we can provide safe care of patients and a lot of them are even happier at home, then we can free up a bed for someone who needs us to start their care,” Pittman said.
The director of the program says it’s been extremely helpful when COVID-19 caseloads made bed space tight inside their own hospitals.
The WakeMed system reported 107 patients hospitalized as of Thursday.
At the end of the week, the Hospital at Home program had around 10 people. But the director says numbers fluctuate within hours and he expects that to double again soon during this surge in COVID cases.