Our Hospital in the Home (HITH) Program is rapidly expanding to provide more in-home care to patients. This is in response to both the current pandemic and the preference of many patients to be treated at home. In addition, it provides the opportunity for additional patients to be admitted for acute care in hospital.
Anne Marie Fabri, Associate Director, Community Programs, explained that, from November this year, the program received additional funding to expand from the current 50 beds to 70 beds.
“The additional funding will increase the capability and complexity of the patients that the team can manage with additional nursing, medical, allied health and administrative support. Nurse educators and chronic disease specialists will be recruited to offer additional support to staff, and expert care to patients. Discussions and planning is already underway with the surgical teams to consider new pathways once elective surgery resumes,” she said.
The team have already started implementing some of the work, including developing pathways with the Virtual ED and diverting admissions for management of hydration and emesis for COVID-19 patients to HITH. This service is designed for patients with moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and further work will be done on additional care for COVID-19 patients in the community.
One of the first patients with COVID-19 seen by HITH was Mary*. Mary had been diagnosed with COVID-19 a few days earlier, and “couldn’t keep anything down”. With two young children at home, she was reluctant to leave the house to see a doctor.
“I felt so dizzy I thought I might collapse,” she said, so she called the Virtual ED, who, after a virtual assessment, referred Mary to HITH. The team visited her at home the next day, started intravenous fluids to help with dehydration, and was able to discharge Mary the next day.
“Without the nurse and doctor from HITH, I would have had to leave my children and go into the hospital. Getting this care in my home was the best thing for me,” she said.
Antonio* is another patient who benefited from this home-based personalised care.
“I was stuck in the hospital because I had COVID-19 and needed blood tests every day. My usual blood test nurses wouldn’t come to my house because of my COVID-19. I was so worried about my wife at home alone,” he said.
Antonio was able to go home with HITH nurses visiting daily to take the blood tests and check on his recovery.
“I was so happy,” said Antonio. “I could go home to my wife, and have the nurses come to me.”
Rabin Sinnappu, HITH Head of Unit, says, “We work closely as a clinical team to ensure the patients receive the best care that they can – and always with a smile behind our masks.”
Lynne Santamaria, HITH Nurse Unit Manager, describes the team as “a really dynamic team to be a part of, seeing a mix of patients in their homes and being able to develop relationships with them”.
The HITH Program is going on a recruitment drive for staff who are interested in working in a friendly, progressive and dynamic team. Experienced nurses will be needed to join the team in providing high quality care in people’s homes.
This is a great opportunity to develop new knowledge and skills in a supported environment.
*Patient names have been changed.