Veteran Home Care Reduces Hospitalization

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U.S. Army veteran Bob Swirsky’s face lights up when home health care nurse Jeanette Hutchinson enters his room to check his blood pressure and attend to his body to prevent bedsores.

“It’s going to be 120 over 60,” Swirsky says, as Hutchinson inflates the cuff on the meter on his left arm. “Close,” she said, “124 over 60.”

In Connecticut, there are 209,882 veterans, according to the most-recent U.S. census data, and 29.4 percent are over the age of 75. This group forms the core of veterans with chronic medical issues who are targeted by a VA program to treat them in their own homes.

Most of the patients in the VA’s Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) program are like Swirsky, who is bed-bound and not able to easily get to the West Haven VA Hospital. He enrolled in the HBPC program in August.

Swirsky’s daughter, Mindy Hart, said, “It is tremendously tiring for him to get into a car, or even just to move around.”………..

Elderly Support Would Be Less of a Burden

Prospective patients are veterans who are already registered in the VA health care system. Veterans are referred to HBPC by the hospital, or their doctors, or sometimes veterans request the service themselves, said Aileen O’Connell, HBPC program director. A registered nurse assesses referrals.

Swirsky, 96, lives just a few miles from the West Haven VA and falls within the territory HBPC covers. Across the state, the general guideline is 30 miles or 30 minutes from the VA facilities in West Haven or Newington, or from one of the community-based outpatient clinics, located in New London, Winsted and Waterbury.

August Palmer, of Stratford, was recommended to the program after receiving an implanted defibrillator.

“I’m 93,” he said, “I can hardly walk.” Staying at home to obtain care has put less of a burden on Palmer’s children.

“My son David takes me — or my daughter Mary — and so they don’t work and everything,” he said. “That’s not fair.”…………

Some Veterans Still Waiting for Home Care  and House Bound Benefits

It costs the VA about $16,000 to take care of a veteran at home, not including other non-HBPC expenses incurred by the VA and Medicare for these patients. The program has resulted in a 36 percent reduction in the number of days veterans spend in a hospital once they begin receiving home care. This decrease leads to an about 12 percent reduction in combined VA and Medicare annual cost per patient, according to the VA……
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Home care saves wear, tear on veterans – Connecticut Post.