Published on February 06, 2012

Mercy Home Health helps patients achieve optimal health and independence

With a few adjustments, Patricia Prelle stays independent at home.

Patricia PrelleWhile raising her six children, hoisting heavy loads came naturally to Patricia Prelle, whether that meant balancing a toddler on each hip or carrying baskets full of clean laundry.

“When I put away the dinner dishes, I would pick up six dishes and lift them at once into the cupboard,” Prelle explains. “Well, I can’t do that anymore. Now I have to do one plate at a time. Everything gets done—just differently.”

Making a few changes to ‘business as usual’ is what keeps 76-year-old Prelle independent and comfortable in her own home.

The Home Team Advantage

The learning process began soon after Prelle suffered a stroke in January 2011 and then transitioned back home under the caring, watchful eye of the Mercy Home Health Chronic Care team. For eight months, a stream of skilled experts moved in and out of Prelle’s daily life, including a registered nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist and at times a home health aide.

Initially, each specialist visited Prelle’s home three times a week and always one at a time. “There was quite a bit of action in the house,” recalls Kathy Russell, RN, clinical manager at Mercy Home Health and also Prelle’s daughter. “With most post-stroke patients, we keep rehabilitation going at a high level. It helps the patient focus on setting goals, achieving goals and getting better, Russell explains.

This activity added another valuable layer to Prelle’s recovery, and that would be consistent socialization. “Every service is one-on-one,” Russell stresses. “This helps our patients develop a wonderful rapport with clinicians, and these relationships really encourage them to try harder.”

Helpful Technology

Prelle’s recovery was further strengthened by Mercy Home Health’s innovative Telehealth® monitoring system, involving a simple device that is installed in the patient’s home and used daily to wirelessly transmit the patient’s vital signs to a Mercy Home Health nurse. In the morning, patients weigh in and then generally take their pulse oximetry to measure oxygen in the blood, blood pressure and pulse.

Because Prelle is a diabetic, she also reported her blood sugar. If vital signs do not arrive by 10:00 a.m. or if they’re outside parameters set by a physician, a Mercy Home Health nurse responds by phoning the patient and taking appropriate action.

Beyond keeping the patient stable, the Telehealth system also serves as a vital learning mechanism, Russell says.

“When we need to call a patient, we have prompt questions to identify what might be causing an instability. If I’m talking to a patient with congestive heart failure and their weight went up, I would ask what they had for dinner last night. Maybe the patient had a ham sandwich and two pickles, so today they’re retaining fluid, which caused an increase in weight, blood pressure, and pulse. We talk about all of that and now the patient knows what happens if they don’t watch their salt intake. It’s a great educational program.”

Routine visits from the Mercy Home Health team along with daily Telehealth monitoring kept Prelle fairly busy during her recovery—so busy, in fact, that she eventually stopped thinking much about her stroke. “I’m used to doing what I have to do and I can’t stop going. I have too many children and grandchildren. They keep me pretty busy.”

Prelle’s focus is now on happy future days with her family. For the staff at Mercy Home Health, that’s “mission accomplished!”