Healthcare In The Comfort Of Home Sweet Home

Not all patients receive infusion treatments in the hospital. Some choose to administer the treatments from the comfort of their home.

She wanted to see her grandbaby born and she didn’t want to be in a hospital or hospice. She wanted to be home and available to take part in welcoming her grandchild into the world. This grandmother chose home infusion.

A young mom wanted to care for her baby who needed infusions to help with digestive complications. She chose to give the infant treatments at home.

“There really isn’t a specific age of our patients. They range from infants to the elderly,” said Benjamin Meyer, IU Health pharmacy coordinator for Home Health Care. Every day, compounds are mixed, inspected, packed and shipped to patient’s homes throughout Indiana. A visiting nurse assists with the general instruction on starting the infusions and follows up as needed. A call center is readily available to answer patient questions; Meyer is part of that team.

Questions may range from, “I’m thinking of taking another medication. Can I still take my infusion?” to “I’m feeling extra tired after infusion. Is that normal?”

“Pharmacists have been one of the most trusted professions. Part of that means me trusting my patients to take care of themselves at home – that they can safely infuse their medications,” said Meyer, a graduate of Butler University’s College of Pharmacy. He has been with IU Health for 14 years. “This provides a personalized plan of care for patients. We treat them as individuals; not numbers.”

Patients who opt to administer infusions at home are treated at IU Health for a variety of conditions including malnutrition, pain management, immune deficiencies, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and complicated infections.

“Their primary goal is to get better and some conditions tend to heal better at home,” said Meyer.

One patient diagnosed with an immune deficiency started infusion treatments at IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Days of work were missed to spend time at the hospital. Some days meant negotiating inclement winter weather – driving, parking, and walking – when the patient didn’t have the energy to leave home.

After eight months, the patient’s hematologist/oncologist ordered home care.

Writing about the home infusions, the patient said: “What a wonderful way to get care. It’s convenient, and there is some flexibility on what day I do it. Believe me, it’s so much better to be at home.  It’s faster and I don’t have to worry about being exposed to other patients. It’s also easier mentally.”

The evening of the patient’s treatments are spent on a couch, curled up with a favorite blanket and often falling asleep watching a movie with a spouse nearby.

“We have some patients call frequently for assistance and others who just take off and it becomes a way of life,” said Meyer, adding the transfusions are generally administered intravenously through the chest or arm. “These are patients who are vested in their own health care and want to be in the comfort of their own home, with their family and the lifestyle they are accustomed to. It makes it more convenient, especially if you are dealing with long-term treatment or care.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
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T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.