Telehealth – Keeping Loved Ones Home for the Holidays

Geraldine Kaylor

For the healthiest amongst us, decorating, wrapping gifts and cooking holiday meals can be challenging. Add an unforeseen injury or illness requiring a trip to the hospital and the best-laid plans become complicated. When the unexpected happens, Lutheran SeniorLife’s Telehealth program offers the life-engaging services you need to help you return and remain at home.



Telehealth: Virtual Home Safety Visits

It’s not ideal to be laid up in a hospital bed anytime of the year, but with the addition of virtual home safety visits, our Rehabilitation Services team can have you home before you know it.

“The goal of the virtual home visits is to support families in adapting home environments for the use of any new equipment required to make home activities easier to manage,” explained Amy Stewart, Director of Corporate Rehabilitation.

Telehealth device

“A huge part of getting our patients home as quickly as possible is making sure that their home is livable,” explained Stewart.  “By conducting virtual safety visits, we are able to determine if any changes need made prior to our patients returning home following rehab.”

For instance, Jane recently spent a few days at the Butler Advanced Care Center (ACC) for a short rehab stay. While at the ACC, a therapist conducted a virtual safety tour of Jane’s home with her son. At the request of the therapist, the son measured the stairs, as well as the height of the bed and toilet. After review, the therapist recommended a number of upgrades. Her son renovated the home per the therapist’s recommendations so Jane’s new equipment could function properly and be in place upon her return.

“She was so happy to be on her way home,” explained Stewart. “It’s a win-win for both Jane and her family!”

Telehealth: Elevating Patient Care

Every day, Geraldine Kaylor, 94, of Butler wakes up at 7 am, eats breakfast, takes her morning medications, and reads her daily devotion. At 9:00 a.m., a voice from her wireless tablet reminds her, “It is now time to check your vital signs.”Kaylor family

According to Kaylor’s daughter-in-law, Deb Kaylor, Geraldine spent several weeks in the hospital with multiple health concerns. Once discharged, she enrolled in the telehealth program of the Visiting Nurses Association of Western Pennsylvania (VNA).

The process begins when the VNA receives a referral from a doctor’s office or hospital, explained Karla Pagan, Clinical Admissions Manager for the VNA.  “Once we receive the patient’s care-plan, a nurse and technologist visits the patient to assess, install and educate the patient on how to use the technology.”

Each patient receives Bluetooth enabled devices including a blood pressure cup, scales and a pulse oximeter, as well as a tablet to record the patient’s vital signs. “We don’t leave the home until the patient feels comfortable using it (technology),” elaborated Pagan.

Through the program, Kaylor takes her vital signs everyday including blood pressure, weight, and oxygen levels. Her tablet automatically transmits her vital signs to a nurse to determine if Kaylor’s vital signs are within a “normal range.”

Telehealth provides a virtual pathway for the nurse to monitor any subtle changes in the patient’s health condition on a daily basis and shares the results with the doctor,” explained Pagan.

Telehealth device According to Deb, Geraldine’s blood pressure had been on the high side since returning from the hospital. The Telehealth program enabled Geraldine’s doctor to closely monitor her vital signs while adjusting her medications subsequently lowering her blood pressure.  Thanks to Telehealth, Kaylor remained at home with her family over the holidays.

“We work closely with everyone who needs a little extra help staying safe and healthy at home,” noted Margie Walsh, VNA Executive Director.

“Telehealth does not replace home visits but elevates patient care with our monitoring capabilities,” noted Pagan. “This type of care “keeps our patients out of the hospital and independent in their home.”

When asked about the benefits of the telehealth program, Kaylor said, “I feel more calm, not as nervous… Peace of mind—that means a lot.”