Maria deGonzalez of Sanger had a positive experience with the Home Care Connect program through Saint Agnes Medical Center
When Maria deGonzalez of Sanger went to Saint Agnes Medical Center regarding her asthma and blood sugar levels, she was surprised to discover that she would be held for treatment.
What deGonzalez didn’t realize was that she was becoming septic due to a urinary tract infection. Because of this, she spent her Christmas in the hospital. When she was released, her doctor told her about Home Care Connect, a new program in use at Saint Agnes Medical Center. The idea of people coming and providing care and helping around the house, however, was not something deGonzalez wanted.
“I said: ‘I really don’t need any help. I’m with my daughter and I can do it.’ And he said: ‘No, no, no, somebody’s going to come check you,’” deGonzalez said. “And that’s how I was introduced to it — not knowing what I was getting into.”
What deGonzalez got into was a set of health monitoring equipment, including a blood pressure cuff, a scale and a pulse oximeter. She also received a tablet that connected her to nurses that would help and counsel her.
“I know our previous telehealth is not as advanced as this one,” said Cynthia Gutierrez, Saint Agnes Home Health and Hospice administrator. “So this allows us to have virtual care capacities with our patients and also allows for essentially 24/7/365 monitoring of our patients, which is not something we’ve been able to have before.”
The trademark program of Trinity Health at Home, a telehealth service in Livonia, Michigan, through Home Care Connect, the patient is connected to the Virtual Care Center. Based in Michigan, this system allows for them to receive face-to-face contact with a nurse to give them advice and assist them.
The video interview allows for the nurse to view the patient’s color, breathing and other signs. If needed, the nurse can also send live help over to the caller.
“If a patient’s uneasy—lets just say they’re not breathing well at 10 or 11 at night and they don’t really know what to do—they can press the little button that requests the nurse to call them,” Gutierrez said. “And the nurse will call them within a short amount of time and the patient can accept a visit and they have a nurse right there looking at them to see how they’re doing.”
In order to assist the patient in their independence, one of Home Care Connect’s main objectives is to educate the patients on how live healthily and take care of themselves regarding their conditions. This includes courses and “homework” for the patient.
“The advice was great. The counseling is very, very good as well because it’s not only told to you, but you can read it and I was taking notes,” deGonzalez said. “They were giving me a lot of things to do to be able to help myself as well.”
Patients are also required to give their vitals. When a patient fails to check in, the Virtual Care Center will also call to see if they’re well. This was the case for deGonzalez when she left her equipment behind at another house.
“And they called me and I loved that, that they called me—they cared,” she said. “They care that I wasn’t calling them back, chiming in and saying: ‘I’m okay.’”
After six weeks, deGonzalez was deemed well enough to be taken off of Home Care Connect. She also had a week’s respite when she was in Mexico to attend a funeral, fearing that she might lose the equipment. However, she now knows what to do to better manage her health, so she can be with her husband and babysit her grandchildren.
“I miss it,” deGonzalez said of the device. “I miss the conversations with them, sometimes.”