Martha (name has been changed) is 51 years old with a diagnosis of severe Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Diabetes. Complications from these conditions had led to six hospitalizations within the prior year, and in turn had considerably impacted Martha’s daily life. But Martha’s situation changed for the better after being discharged and referred to Mays for her home health care needs. She found a way to take control.
Before the Program
Luann Boettler, Martha’s Case Manager, placed a HomMed monitoring system in Martha’s home right away. The monitor was set to go off at the same times throughout each day, allowing Martha and Mays to track and trend her vital signs on a daily basis. Seeing Martha’s weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels daily allowed Luann to catch exacerbations in Martha’s conditions much sooner. As a result, more complex complications could be avoided by early intervention, which is exactly what happened. Martha was now avoiding what was previously an inevitable result; a costly hospital stay. “This machine has kept me out of the hospital. Prior to this, I was in the hospital four to six times a year,” says Martha.
The HomMed Monitoring System was having another positive effect on Martha’s life. By seeing how her own choices were affecting her daily vital signs, the monitor was motivating her to take a proactive stance on her own health. “The monitor helps me keep up on my own health. It lets me know when I need to get in touch with the doctor so that we can change things if need be,” says Martha.
HomeCall’s CHF Program Is Introduced
Although Martha had avoided the hospital for several months, exacerbations of her CHF were still happening routinely. This situation was not tolerable for Mays, and the development of a solution had already been in the works. During May of 2005, Mays introduced its CHF program aimed at unstable CHF patients and “frequent flyers”. Martha’s condition definitely qualified her for the program.
Martha’s doctor signed on, the desired parameters were set, and the medication kit included in the CHF program was placed in Martha’s home. Now Luann could administer the proper care to counter any undesired changes of Martha’s vital signs much quicker than before. Time is critical, with a matter of hours being the difference between staying home and another visit to the hospital. Now, with just a phone call from Luann, Martha could instantly take the medication needed to impede an exacerbation and be closely monitored until the desired effects are achieved. If needed, each step of the program could be administered without delay. “All I have to do is get on the monitor and do my vital signs and answer the questions and the nurses will call me and find out what is going on or come over. They will also come late at night. I know this first hand and the nurses take care of the problem,” states Martha.
The CHF program also took Martha’s proactive stance towards her health a step further. Having the medication kit in the home gave Martha a “hands on” approach to working with the nurses in taking the timely and necessary actions for her health. The kit represented another means of success over her CHF. “The CHF program really empowers patients to take control of their own health,” says Luann Boettler. “It makes them a team player.”
Positive Effects of the CHF Program
Martha gained numerous benefits from Mays CHF program and her choice to take responsibility for her own health. She avoided the hospital for thirteen months, even then being admitted for reasons unrelated to her CHF. She has also lost 23 lbs. since being on the program. Martha also enjoys feeling better and making health-conscious choices. But the greatest benefit of all is having more control of her life. The HomMed monitor and the CHF program motivated Martha to take responsibility, showing her that lifestyle choices do directly affect one’s health. “In my opinion, the monitor has helped me stay out of the hospital many a time. I think the monitor has helped me in the long haul; it’s a very good thing.”