Home-based Medicine

Edmonton’s Virtual Home Hospital safely supports patients at home


Dr. Greg Hrynchyshyn, Medical Director of the Edmonton Zone Virtual Home Hospital, with (left), Laura Mumme, Senior Project Manager, and Lisa Marco, Patient Care Manager.

Dr. Greg Hrynchyshyn, Medical Director of the Edmonton Zone Virtual Home Hospital, with (left), Laura Mumme, Senior Project Manager, and Lisa Marco, Patient Care Manager.

Imagine requiring hospital care and being offered the opportunity to continue it at home, with the support of a care team. You’re given digital monitoring equipment and have regular virtual check-ins. You’re able to eat your own food, sleep in your own bed and get back to your daily activities.

For residents of the Edmonton area, this type of care isn’t something you just have to imagine – it’s what’s offered through Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) Edmonton Zone Virtual Home Hospital (EZVHH).

“Our goal is to provide safe, high-quality acute care to patients in their own homes through the use of virtual care technology and the support of both a multidisciplinary health-care team and community partners” says EZVHH patient care manager, Lisa Marco. “Our program provides the support some patients need to enable them to leave the hospital early or avoid being admitted to the hospital altogether if they’re referred to us early enough in their care.”

The EZVHH has been providing safe, high-quality care to patients in the Edmonton area since 2018, and the program has gradually expanded to include more patient populations – including surgical, women’s health and cardiology. The University Hospital Foundation has supported the program by providing funding for some equipment.

Inge Westlin, 77, knows the benefit of EZVHH well. She first learned of it while waiting for a cardiac ablation procedure at the University of Alberta Hospital’s Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, and became a EZVHH cardiology patient last July. Westlin required regular monitoring until her procedure and would have been admitted to the hospital if the program wasn’t there to support her.

“I knew that Inge could safely be at home while she waited for her procedure if she was monitored by a care team, so I referred her to the EZVHH,” says Dr. Nawaf Almajed, an associate clinical professor and cardiologist with AHS, and the cardiology medical lead for the EZVHH.

Westlin was discharged from the hospital and admitted into the care of the EZVHH cardiology unit. She went home with a digital patient monitoring kit that allowed her care team, including Almajed, to remotely monitor vitals such as her blood pressure and heart rate. She was able to safely return to many of her usual daily activities while she waited for her ablation.

“The program felt like a cradle of love,” says Westlin. “It felt like I had a lifeline during a very stressful time. If I had questions or concerns, I knew the team was a phone call away.”

Marco says the EZVHH benefits patients in other ways. “Imagine having post-partum complications and not being able to go home with your newborn baby because you need hospital-level care,” she says. “Or being an elderly patient, whose spouse has a difficult time coming to the hospital to visit because of their own health challenges. We can help improve the patient experience in both scenarios by moving care into their home.”

Beyond improving the patient experience, EZVHH also plays a key role in addressing acute-care pressures in Edmonton hospitals.

“Our team is constantly looking for opportunities to support patients safely at home instead of the hospital, so beds are available for patients who truly need care in a bricks-and-mortar hospital,” says Dr. Greg Hrynchyshyn, medical director of the EZVHH. “EZVHH is part of the solution, and we continue to look for ways to support new patient populations.”

“The opportunity to be continuously innovative, explore new patient populations and reimagine how care is delivered is an exciting venture,” adds Laura Mumme, senior project manager of the EZVHH. “Our program is truly breaking new ground daily and represents the future of health care in Alberta.”

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