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John chooses Cairns Hospital in his home

Wednesday 8 January 2020

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When John Lucas decided to go to the Cairns Hospital emergency department on a Sunday night with an infected skin ulcer, he was very happy when they sent him home.

Normally, Mr Lucas (aged 77) would have been admitted for several days of observation and supervised antibiotic treatment.

However, under the new Emergency Department Hospital in Your Home program, suitable patients can be assessed at the ED and then be managed by clinicians who visit their homes, rather than be admitted to a hospital ward.

Program Medical Lead and Emergency Physician Dr Claire Grasso said the program operates 24 hours and has been in place at Cairns Hospital for nine weeks. A total of 90 patients have been admitted under Hospital in Your Home.

“In Mr Lucas’s case, we assessed his infection and discussed the option of nurses visiting and treating him at home.”

“If I can be monitored and treated at home, I would prefer it,” said Mr Lucas. “It meant I could be home with my wife.”

After treatment Mr Lucas went home with his wife and nurses visited him at home daily, monitored his progress, dressed his wound and administered antibiotics.

After several days of nursing visits, the infection was gone and Mr Lucas was referred back to his GP.

Conditions that can be managed at home by emergency clinicians include simple infections of the skin, kidney, breast or lungs, vomiting during pregnancy, and conditions requiring blood thinning agents.

“It is a great option for patients needing short term hospital care,” said Dr Grasso.

“We’re very pleased with the response from our patients. On average 1-2 patients a day are deciding to use the service.”

“Selected patients are assessed by our Emergency doctors, treated, and then with their consent we allow them to go home. We then continue to check on them at home during treatment and recovery,” Dr Grasso said.

Dr Grasso works closely with a team of nurses to look after patients in their homes.

“The nurses were very professional and caring,” said Mr Lucas. “I would certainly do it again.”

“The program is part of the Cairns Hospital Winter Bed Strategy and is helping to free up hospital beds at Cairns Hospital,” said Executive Director Cairns Services Tina Chinery.

“The model has been a great success for the Emergency Department with flow on effects to the rest of the hospital,” said Ms Chinery.

“Patients enjoy the comforts of their own home and can recover in a more familiar, relaxed setting which is also beneficial for their social and emotional wellbeing.”

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Last updated: 8 January 2020