After being diagnosed with a rare lung infection, local woman Karen Troy-Smith, thought she’d be stuck in hospital for months.
Thanks to the Lismore Hospital in the Home (HITH) team, Karen, 52 is instead receiving treatment at her picturesque home just outside Lismore, with her family and home comforts close by.
Karen’s diagnosis of mycobacterium, a non-tuberculosis bacterial lung infection, saw her admitted to Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane on 2 March 2020 under the care of a specialist respiratory physician.
Two weeks later, Karen was back at home, having daily check-ups by the HITH nursing team, and daily case review by her Brisbane-based doctor.
“It’s brilliant,” Karen said.
“To be able to be home with my family and in my garden, and I can ring HITH at any time if I’m feeling unwell.”
HITH have coordinated Karen’s care through their small team based in Lismore, working with Lismore Base Hospital to secure the specialised testing Karen’s physician has ordered.
“The respiratory specialist has been able to see me through the HITH team, with the nurses consulting with him and organising all of my tests.”
With the current COVID-19 restrictions, being at home and close to family is even more important for Karen at present.
“My dad, who’s 83, lives next door and if I were in hospital, he wouldn’t have been able to see me at all. Still abiding by the social distancing rules, we could catch up. That’s been wonderful,” Karen said.
The HITH service provides treatment and care for acute and post-acute patients outside the hospital setting, operating every day of the year.
Patients can access HITH either in their home or a Residential Aged Care Facility, or by returning to Lismore Base Hospital (LBH), or a community health service for treatment.
“HITH provides a comprehensive, patient centred service which includes the full involvement of the patient and carers,” Acting Nurse Unit Manager, Lismore Community Health, Bronwyn Browne, said.
As part of the COVID-19 response, the HITH team are also monitoring COVID-positive and high-risk patients in their homes, with daily telehealth consultations and health screening to make sure they’re recovering well.
“In the height of the pandemic we were monitoring up to 10 patients per day for COVID-19, doubling our usual patient load,” Bronwyn said.
Being able to have expert medical care delivered in the comfort of their own home is one of the major benefits for patients using the HITH service.
“They are able to sleep in their own beds, eat their own food and go about their everyday lives,” Bronwyn said.
“As our clients often say, there’s no place like home.”