Meet Michigan Medicine: Home Care Services

February 26, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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For many patients, managing their health is a 24/7 process — meaning it doesn’t stop the moment they leave the hospital or clinic.

Thanks to dedicated providers at Michigan Medicine, the care these patients receive never stops either, even after patients are discharged.

Here’s what you may not know about Home Care Services (HCS), a committed team of experts who ensure patients get the care they need without ever leaving their home.

Quadruple the services, quadruple the care

HCS is made up of four divisions: The HomeMed Infusion and Specialty Pharmacy, Michigan Visiting Nurses (MVN), Michigan Visiting Care (MVC) and Wheelchair Seating Service (WSS).

Team members serve patients who are either unable to come to the academic medical center or ambulatory clinics for treatment, or are healthy enough to go home but still need individualized medical care. Michigan Medicine physicians are the primary referral source for all HCS patients.

“Our services are unique and complex,” said Eric Towell, R.N., EMBA, associate chief operating officer of Home Care Services. “That’s because we view ourselves as a small hospital, delivering skilled, personal care and therapy services in the privacy of a patient’s home.”

HomeMed Infusion and Specialty Pharmacy

HomeMed is a fully-licensed pharmacy comprised of more than 100 employees, including clinical pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, registered nurses and dietitians, office/reimbursement, medical records, equipment and delivery staff.

“We’re a full-service operation,” said Tricia Sirois, Pharm.D., director of pharmacy for Home Care Services. “We provide an expansive formulary of medications along with all of the supplies and equipment needed to administer these therapies.”

The department also dispenses and delivers formulas for those who utilize feeding tubes or need their nutrients in oral form.

“But that’s not where our involvement ends,” Sirois said. “We also provide clinical services and monitor a patient’s response to therapy, coordinate changes in treatment plans, and evaluate test results to ensure that the medication is having the desired effect.”

HomeMed is unique from traditional outpatient pharmacies in that the department also has a staff of in-home nurses to administer medications to patients. Frequently, these medications can take several hours to infuse and require monitoring.

Finally, the HomeMed hospital-based training and education team, comprised of nurses and dietitians, engages with inpatients to prepare them to receive ongoing medical care in the home.

“Our staff works with care management colleagues to coordinate the transition of care to the home setting,” Sirois said. “In that way, we help patients avoid ER visits and hospital readmissions.”

Michigan Visiting Nurses/Michigan Visiting Care

MVN is a Medicare-certified organization and the oldest division within Home Care Services, as it was founded more than 100 years ago.

This group of nurses, social workers, occupational and physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, speech language pathologists, home health aides and mental and maternal health experts provides a wide-range of services.

“Our skilled professionals complete assessments and create individualized plans of care with the patient and their physician, while providing education to patients across the lifespan,” said Debbie Kovacevich, clinical nurse director for MVN/MVC. “Our goal is to provide treatment for an illness or injury that helps patients get better and regain independence as soon as possible.”

The teams make almost 4,000 visits per month, which include providing education regarding disease and medication management, wound care, assisting with IVs, therapy exercises and obtaining community resources.

Finally, the division manages Michigan Visiting Care — a community health program — as well as a private duty/personal care program.

“MVC hosts health and immunization clinics for outside organizations, including schools and churches,” Kovacevich said.

The personal care program, staffed with home health aides, provides services such as medication reminders, companionship, bathing and light housekeeping for up to four hours a day. And a private duty team provides care from 8 to 24 hours to patients who are ventilator-dependent.

Wheelchair Seating Service

According to Mike Barner, administrative director for Wheelchair Seating Service, the name of his division is deceptive.

“We offer a lot more than just wheelchairs,” Barner said. “We’re a complex rehab technology supplier, meaning we serve any patient who needs assistance when it comes to seating and mobility.”

Therefore, WSS experts meet with pediatric and adult patients to provide them with custom scooters, walkers, shower equipment, manual or power wheelchairs and much more.

“From the moment we fit them for equipment, we never stop working with patients,” Barner said. “We help them with insurance authorization, purchasing, fitting, assembly and, eventually, repair.”

Due to the nature of the work, WSS team members work closely with others in the organization, including those in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and the Department of Neurology.

It’s that sort of team effort that permeates all areas of Home Care Services.

“We’re proud to be a piece of the puzzle at Michigan Medicine,” Towell said. “We know that our work supports the work of thousands of others — and it’s all to the benefit of patients and their families.”

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