Bringing Hospital-Level Care into South Shore Homes
Last March, just as the pandemic was ramping up in Massachusetts, Louisa dialed 9-1-1. Her husband Michael was suffering from an acute infection and needed urgent medical attention.
“We went to South Shore Hospital in an ambulance, feeling very vulnerable and fearful about possible exposure to COVID-19 on top of everything else,” remarked Louisa. “The wonderful doctor who was treating Michael in the ED told us about the Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) program that had just launched. At the time, I didn’t fully understand how life-changing it would turn out to be.”
Louisa continued, “Michael is living a very cheerful life despite his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. However, in recent years, his disease has progressed and life has become more limited and, at times, very frightening.”
Due to the chronic infections that move through Michael’s body rapidly, the couple found themselves at the hospital more and more.
But getting there wasn’t always easy.
As a wheelchair user, Michael often didn’t have the strength to get into the car and make the 20-minute drive to the Emergency Department. Louisa had no choice but to call the ambulance.
“It’s the right thing to do but produces a lot of anxiety," she said. "This awful scenario happened at least a dozen times before we were enrolled in MIH. Now, instead of rushing off in an ambulance and spending days in the hospital, they come to our home and do what they need to do, urgently but peacefully, with a lot less stress on Michael. They take vitals, give fluids, and administer antibiotics. I can’t overstate the professionalism and warmth of the staff: the EMTs and paramedics that come here, and the doctors on the phone that are monitoring him via telehealth. They’re all…well, exceptional.”
Mobile Integrated Health
Led by South Shore Health’s Emergency Medical Services, the Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) program delivers highly specialized care to patients in their homes and prevents unnecessary emergency room visits and frequent inpatient re-admissions.
The paramedics and specially trained EMTs that power this program are fully-integrated, proactive care providers supporting a wide range of patient needs, from chronic disease management to post-discharge follow-up care.
Working collaboratively with community partners and visiting nurses, and utilizing telehealth technology to communicate with primary care physicians and specialists when necessary, MIH medical professionals are bringing hospital-level care out into the community, serving patients, like Michael, in the right place, at the right time, improving their quality of life and reducing time spent in the hospital.
During the pandemic, the program proved instrumental, treating COVID positive patients with moderate symptoms in their homes and increasing hospital capacity for the most severe cases.
With COVID-19 vaccination underway and a return to normalcy in view, South Shore Health is working like never before to advance community health and resilience for the South Shore.
But in order to impact health and well-being on a large scale, we must reduce barriers to care and provide convenient access to the services that patients need to feel well.
“This program is remarkable, a huge convenience," Michael emphasized.
"I would go to the hospital so frequently and have to be checked in and go through the whole procedure each and every time, just for a course of antibiotics," he continued. "Now, I can receive the care I need at home, recover comfortably with my family, and not feel like a burden. And I’m much happier to let the busy doctors at the hospital carry on their work treating patients that really need to be in the physical space of the hospital.”
Many of us may be managing a chronic condition, digesting a difficult diagnosis, or helping care for an at-risk family member at home.
We want to feel less worried, less scared; like we’re in good hands. Instead of being “checked-in,” we want to feel consulted, consoled, and cared for.
South Shore Health brings together like-minded professionals, As One, to develop individualized treatment plans for patients and their families.
“I would love to see this program keep growing and I will support it wholeheartedly,” Louisa concluded. “I can’t express how valuable a service like this is. There are so many families in the community that could benefit.”