A Publication of WTVP

For those living with chronic illness or disability, living at home is often the best option.

Most of us would rather be at home than in a hospital, assisted living facility or nursing home. Yet there are times when you may need healthcare beyond the doctor’s office or outside a hospital. UnityPoint at Home – Peoria provides Medicare-certified home healthcare that offers an alternative when health issues arise. Such services are an important option, as healthcare reform has placed increasing emphasis on holding down costs by delivering care outside of the traditional hospital setting.

Kathy Kujawa, director of UnityPoint at Home – Peoria, says, “We offer hope for people to regain their independence. Home health provides necessary support services so patients get the care they need in the comfort of their own home. Our nursing care covers newborns to end-of-life. Nurses are available on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions and, where necessary, provide an in-home visit.”

Home health services include intermittent nursing care, physical therapy, occupational health, speech therapy, and the services of social workers and home health aides. Kujawa says home health services must be ordered by a physician who works closely with home health in developing and implementing a plan of care. She notes the average patient uses home health services for about 60 days, but others require more long-term care.

Home health can be a great advantage for those who do not need continuous nursing care but find it difficult or impossible to leave home for medical treatments. Research shows that for those living with chronic illness or disability, living at home is often the best option for physical and mental health. “After all,” says Kujawa, “isn’t home the place where family, friends and familiar surroundings make you feel most comfortable?”

In addition to nursing services, Kujawa says UnityPoint at Home is the only local home health agency that includes a pastoral care counselor. Funded by the UnityPoint Health – Methodist Foundation, pastoral care counselors provide coping skills and spiritual counseling as they help patients deal with changes in their lives.

The UnityPoint at Home team works closely with physicians and other providers to make sure each patient receives the necessary nursing, therapies, and other services. The team can also help ensure a smooth transition from home health into hospice care if the need arises.

UnityPoint at Home uses secure electronic medical records that allow authorized health personnel to access a patient’s medical history at any time, providing faster and more informed treatment. In addition, telemonitoring is available in the home. This service transmits daily health information from the patient to healthcare professionals while providing the patient with information on medication and disease management. Kujawa says the goal is to reduce visits to the emergency room and readmissions to the hospital.

The program also offers patients access to the Lifeline Alert Monitoring System, giving them an added sense of security by providing immediate emergency response when activated. In addition, home visits are covered by Medicare and may be covered by Medicaid, Medicare HMO or private insurance plans. iBi