The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Patients are at the heart of this home care

Patients are at the heart of this home care

When you leave the hospital, sometimes the care follows you home. Sometimes that care ends up happening in your kitchen, of all places. 

WellSpan visiting nurse Jodeane Felty has combed through Steve Freundlich's cupboards with him in his Lebanon County home, to see how much salt is in the food he buys and teach him to make the best choices. She hooked him up to a healthy meal delivery service in his community so Steve, an 80-year-old widower who has been hospitalized for heart failure and doesn't like to cook, eats better. 

"My neighbors have been bringing me lots of good holiday leftovers," Steve confesses during a recent visit at his home with Jodeane. "Stuff I probably shouldn't eat." 

"Stay away from the ham!" Jodeane says, "And eat small portions at meals. Portion size is everything." 

In addition to discussing his diet, Jodeane takes Steve's blood pressure during her visits in his Fredericksburg home. She pricks his finger to measure how well his blood is clotting. She examines his legs for any issues with swelling or sores. Steve also monitors his own vital signs on days when Jodeane does not visit and gets regular telephone calls from a heart failure care coordinator. 

All of this puts Steve at the center of personalized support to help him live his healthiest life and stay out of the hospital, something he has been able to achieve so he recently could celebrate Thanksgiving with two of his children at his home and so he soon will be able to celebrate Christmas with some close friends 

This is how a nationally recognized home health heart failure program operates. 

WellSpan VNA Home Care recently became only the third provider in the country to receive the American Heart Association's Home Health Heart Failure certification. The certification focuses on standards that include program management, patient and caregiver education and support, care coordination, and clinical management 

WellSpan Health provides heart failure home care services to over 800 patients a year in South Central Pennsylvania. Heart failure patients receive a clinical home assessment and education visit, or clinical telephone call each day for their first seven days of home care services. 

WellSpan practices as system, which means collaboration between providers, primary care providers, clinicians, patients and family, and the home health team. Services provided in the home include nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, home health aides, medical social workers, and a nutritionist visit. The program also provides patients with scales, blood pressure monitors, and pulse oximeters, so they can monitor their health between visits. 

Steve enjoys seeing Jodeane, a bubbly mom of three kids who wears her hair pulled up in a bun, kidding around with her, looking at photos on her phone from her recent vacation, and sharing his holiday plans with her. She asks about his friends by name and knows his routine. 

The two have a bond that is the secret sauce of the program. 

"Home care is very personal," Jodeane notes. "We try to stay with the same patients to provide them with continuity of care." 

Steve nods. 

"When you get to know that person," he says, looking at Jodeane, "you listen to them when they say you have to drink two liters of water a day and watch your salt. It makes it easier to do." 

For more information on WellSpan VNA Home Care, go here. VNA provides care for those recovering from heart failure as well as other illnesses, accidents, or disabilities. Patients should discuss home care services with their healthcare provider.