There's No Place Like Home:
Home-based treatments are a welcome option, con't.
The Comprehensive Cancer Center's Skills Lab teaches some of these home care skills so that patients can participate
in their own treatment and recovery. The focus is on reducing the uneasiness of performing these tasks at home.
With the initial diagnosis and the recurrence of her cancer, Johnson has now used in-home medical care services
during post-surgery recovery, radiation and chemotherapy.
"It has been great to be able to see the same nurse every time," Johnson says. "It helps with the continuity. And we talk
about things other than cancer."
HomeMed Nurse Theresa Sirrine, R.N., has even trained Johnson's mother, who has a health care background, to disconnect
the infusion pump so that Johnson doesn't have to wait for the nurse to arrive after treatment or return to the infusion area.
U-M is accredited in home-based care by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits more than 19,000 health care
organizations in the United States. A majority of state governments have come to recognize Joint Commission accreditation as a condition
of licensure and the receipt of Medicaid reimbursement. Most commercial payers also require home infusion providers to be accredited.
"Patients really value home care services," says Kovacevich. "They like not being admitted to the hospital or making frequent
visits to our infusion center. With our service, patients can call anytime about signs or symptoms that concern them when they
are infusing drugs in the home. The nurses, pharmacists and dietitians who comprise our interdisciplinary team are very invested
in our patients."
Kovacevich herself is so invested in these patients that she is involved in a number of research projects
to make home infusion services even better.
"We're currently waiting for approval for a program in which we'll be training patients who want to disconnect themselves from their chemotherapy
devices. And we're looking into using a two-way video program for additional education and training in the home for our antibiotic infusion
patients when they are doing the procedures on their own," she says. So far, the model is a split-screen approach that will show both the nurse and
the patient, which will enable staff to record patient technique as they learn the procedure.
In the meantime, Johnson says she enjoys a great deal of support from her mother, her family and her friends, many of whom she
has known since junior and senior high school. And her new puppy, Cass, is a bundle of joy.
"I think maintaining a positive attitude is very important," Johnson says. "And using services that can be provided in the home
has been a definite plus in helping me stay positive."
Johnson's advice to patients: "Definitely take advantage of the services available to you. And don't be afraid to ask questions."
Learn more in our Guide to Home Care Services.
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