“I didn’t even know such a thing existed.”
Although Carmen had a history of chronic respiratory problems and was no stranger to hospital stays, when she went to the emergency room at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in early July for breathing trouble, she had quite the unexpected experience.
“I stayed at the hospital for one night, Monday night,” she remembers. “Around 3:00 pm on Tuesday they offered for me to go home.” The offer was for admission to the Gundersen Home Hospital program, which allows eligible patients to complete their hospital care in the comfort and convenience of their home.
“I said, ‘why me?’ and they explained that I was not in an emergency situation, my condition was not life-threatening, and I had the support at home [to receive care at home],” says Carmen. “I didn’t even know such a thing existed.”
She was sent home, where she lives with her daughter, son-in-law, and 8-year-old grandson. To support her treatment, she was provided with remote monitoring equipment and technology support for virtual physician visits. A nurse visited her twice a day to help with her care and check on her progress, and physical therapy visits were arranged as well.
Carmen says that the nurses’ “professionalism, their ability to take care of things and how they worked together to make sure things got done,” were the best part of the program. “I wasn’t easy to put IVs in, but they didn’t do anything that hurt me,” she recalled.
“You really develop a relationship with the staff because you see the same ones at each visit. My needs as a patient were foremost with everyone, even [the doctors] with the virtual visits on the tablet,” she continued. As for the technology, “The nurses took care of all that and made it easy.” She also says the way she was treated during virtual visits stood out: “they didn’t just talk to each other, they talked to my daughter and me.”
But the quality medical care wasn’t the only thing Carmen remembers well about the experience. “There’s no greater positive feedback [for this program] than your family- your grandson- coming into your room every morning, and knowing the medical support is there too,” she shared. “They couldn’t all come to the hospital because of COVID. [With this] my daughter could be home with her son, too, instead of at the hospital with me.”
“For a 76-year-old grandma, having your grandson come in your room in the morning and saying, ‘good morning grandma, did you sleep good?’– there’s nothing better than that. Instead of being in the hospital where the lights come on and they wake you up to take your vitals and draw blood and then say, ‘you can go back to sleep now.’”
For others who have the opportunity to complete their hospital care at home, Carmen says “I highly recommend it to someone who has the right [family] support at home like I did.”