by Vickie Jenkins
The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital launched the Pediatric Home Ventilator Program on May 4, 2015. This program was designed to enable children who are ventilator dependent to grow and develop in their own homes.
Anna Nguyen, Ph.D., Chief Clinical Officer of The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, explains, “The Pediatric Home Ventilator Program is dedicated to supporting the care of children with diseases that require chronic mechanical ventilation. Our goal is to improve the complex care these children require to safely and seamlessly transition from hospital to home, and, to make life easier for their families.” An additional benefit of the program will be realized when patients and families complete their training and are discharged, allowing The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital to admit and care for additional patients.
The program will initially serve 20 patients, with the goal of expanding to admit more qualified patients. Patients will be cared for by Pediatric Pulmonologist Robert Katz, M.D. who brings more than 30 years of training and experience working in pediatric pulmonology and pediatric critical care to The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital.
The types of patients who typically need home ventilation are those with restrictive pulmonary disease or respiratory insufficiency. These might include patients with muscular dystrophy, tracheomalacia, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or scoliosis.
Once qualified, the patients’ families will undergo six to eight weeks of training at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, followed by discharge based on the readiness of the family and availability of resources in the home. They will receive training with nurses and respiratory therapists to ensure they can do almost everything for their child, including monitoring the ventilator, pulse oximetry to monitor oxygen saturations, feeding and gastric tube care, skin care for affected areas and more. In order to facilitate the training and ensure all equipment and resources are in place before the patient is released, The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital has assembled an interdisciplinary team including the pediatric pulmonologist, pediatrician, case manager, social worker, nurse and respiratory therapist. Coordinating all aspects of the program is essential, as Dr. Nguyen outlines. “We have been working very closely with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Durable Medical Equipment companies to make sure the child has the necessary equipment and the supplies that will be used in the home. Moreover, we are working to ensure the families have the support they need to conduct ongoing care for their child. Our goal is to make the transition process from hospital to home seamless for our ventilator dependent patients and their families.”
Each case will be individually evaluated and coordinated by the team at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital. After discharge, patients will continue to receive outpatient follow-up evaluations on a monthly or quarterly basis at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital’s Pediatric Clinic. Additionally, the program team will continue to meet on a weekly basis to discuss particular patient clinical needs and identify areas for quality improvement as the program grows.