November 20, 2012
Home Health Provides Skilled Care to the Elderly, Homebound and Patients after Surgery and Hospitalization
Northwestern Home Health combines more than 40 years’ service with new healthcare technology to ensure quality care for patients in their home
LAKE FOREST – Adam J. Frank spent 51 straight days in Northwestern Memorial Hospital after his diagnosis of biphenotypic acute leukemia and then was in and out of the hospital for three more months while undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and finally a stem cell transplant.
The opportunity to utilize Northwestern Home Health in between hospital visits and after his stem cell transplant was a welcome benefit to him, his family and his fiancé–particularly because Northwestern Home Health had an RN liaison at the hospital to coordinate all aspects of his discharge from the hospital and ensure a safe transition from the hospital to his home.
Northwestern Home Health provided Adam’s care in between chemotherapy sessions and before and after his stem cell transplant. Up to three times a week, Adam began his day with a visit from the Northwestern Home Health nurses who took his vitals and his bloodwork. The nurses and therapists utilize electronic medical records and brought a laptop to their visits with Adam to document his care right in his home.
Through the electronic medical record, the nurses could immediately access all of Adam’s patient information, enhancing care coordination with his physicians and other members of the healthcare team. The nurses also could check the coagulation in Adam’s blood, a critical part of the treatment and care for patients with leukemia, and follow up with the physician right from Adam’s home.
Northwestern Home Health is one of Illinois’ oldest hospital-based home health agencies, having brought quality, skilled care within the home setting to patients in Lake, Cook and McHenry counties for more than 40 years. Northwestern Home Health services range from personal care to high-tech infusion services, and the care is provided by registered nurses and therapists with diverse clinical background in the care of acute and chronic illnesses. Being hospital-based, the Northwestern Home Health staff has full access to additional hospital resources such as the dietitian, chaplain, and diabetic educator for the patient.
“November is national home health month and a time to recognize the important role home health plays in the healthcare of so many in our community. Northwestern Home Health cares for a variety of patients, many of them elderly and homebound, and also those like Adam who require skilled care after surgery and a recent hospitalization,” said the director of Northwestern Home Health Cristine M. Traba, MS, RN-BC. “Many other patients we see have recently had open heart surgery or joint replacement surgery and require the services of a home care nurse and/or physical therapist to promote their optimal recovery after surgery.”
Home health has changed greatly in the 40 years of Northwestern Home Health’s existence, due to the changing population that home health care serves. Patients are living longer and have more chronic illnesses. The length of stay in the hospital has dramatically decreased, with patients coming home sooner and requiring more skilled care and monitoring in the home to prevent complications and re-hospitalization.
Patients discharged from Northwestern Memorial Hospital to Northwestern Home Health may have had open heart surgery or a stem cell transplant like Adam. The staff at Northwestern Home Health has advanced their skill and knowledge to care for these patients who require astute assessment and care coordination with their physicians during the time of a serious illness. Because of the acute needs of some patients, the Northwestern Home Health nurses are trained to administer a variety of infusion therapies in the home and care for patients with complex wounds.
“Leaving the hospital so quickly after a major procedure is often overwhelming to the patient and the patient’s family members helping in their care,” continued Traba. “Home health care is a critical part of a patient’s overall treatment plan, providing hospital-level care in the comfort of the patient’s home.”
“During my hospitalizations, my fiancé and family had to drive back and forth between Gurnee and Chicago, so it was a huge relief to all of us to be able to have the nurses come to me at home whenever possible,” said Adam, now 23, who lived in Gurnee with his parents during the time of his illness. “It was so much better to be in the comfort of my own home in between the chemotherapy sessions, and to know that I could get the care I needed at home after my stem cell transplant.”
Northwestern Home Health is an Illinois licensed Medicare Certified Home Health Agency and licensed as a provider of home medical equipment. Also, Northwestern Home Health is Joint Commission accredited and holds the distinction of having Magnet Designation for Nursing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Last year, the staff of Northwestern Home Health admitted 1,226 patients to home health and completed 17,532 visits to Lake, Cook and Eastern McHenry county patients.