It started with nausea, chills and weakness one night last August. Lois Welsh felt so bad her daughter called an ambulance to take her to Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton.
Welsh’s diagnosis surprised everyone. The normally active 74-year-old not only had pneumonia but also congestive heart failure (CHF), a chronic condition that limits the heart’s pumping power. “It was a complete shock because I felt fine before that,” she says. “I ended up in the hospital for 13 days.”
Support at home
After being discharged, Welsh was eager to get back to her favorite activities, including babysitting her two granddaughters and playing bingo. But she felt weak and unsteady. Welsh was relieved home care was available to help her while she recovered.
“When we first saw Lois she was suffering from dizziness and had fallen,” says Marisel Mieses, RN, with Lehigh Valley Home Care–Hazleton (LVHC–Hazleton). “Our goal is to provide whatever therapy or care patients need.”
Over the next six weeks, Welsh received regular visits from nurses, as well as occupational and physical therapists, to help her regain strength and balance. Mieses also taught her to use a new telehealth monitoring machine, available since August, to measure her blood pressure, weight and blood oxygen levels every day.
“It’s easy to use with an automated blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter and scale,” Mieses says. Vital signs are automatically sent by modem to the Air Products Center for Connected Care and Innovation in Allentown where nurses remotely monitor data to ensure everything looks normal.
Health crisis averted
The service proved to be a lifesaver when Welsh’s blood pressure dipped dangerously low one day. Her cardiologist was immediately alerted and quickly readjusted her hypertension medication.
“We’re seeing good outcomes with this new monitoring system,” says Lynda Naperkowski, MSN, RN, Director, LVHC–Hazleton. “Only two of 24 patients have been readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.”
Welsh and her family credit telemonitoring with bringing peace of mind and helping her recover faster. “My care team knew right away if I was sick,” she says. “My energy is back now, and I feel great.”