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Happier, and Healthier, at Home

Happier, and Healthier, at Home

I am amazed at how often an article I am working on for Hopkins Medicine magazine takes on personal resonance. In this case, I was finalizing “Home, Sweet Hospital” with writer Carrie Arnold when an octogenarian who is very dear to me unexpectedly landed in a hospital (not Johns Hopkins) for a week-long stay in the progressive care unit.

The care he received was just fine, but after the first day he couldn’t wait to get home — home to his comfortable bed where he could get a good night’s sleep (uninterrupted by beeping monitors and vitals checks), home to his cozy kitchen and his familiar recliner and his outdoor balcony with its fresh air and soothing view of rolling hills.

Of course, he is not alone in his yearning for the comforts of home over the sterile fluorescence of a noisy hospital — something Johns Hopkins geriatrician Bruce Leff has long had the wisdom to recognize. Over several decades, he has tirelessly championed an innovative model that provides acute-level hospital care for patients at home, with impressive results to patients’ health and the bottom line. But as you’ll read in Arnold’s story, barriers to financial reimbursement for health systems have, frustratingly, prevented Leff’s model from gaining widespread implementation — until recently, when COVID-19 so dramatically changed the health care landscape.

I’m heartened by this shift and cheering for rapid acceptance of the hospital at home model. Given our nation’s graying population, the timing couldn’t be better.

Sue De Pasquale

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