Today’s hospitals are understaffed and there is no relief in sight. The demand for qualified professionals far exceeds the number of students in programs in medical schools. This problem will probably not be resolved any time soon, and with more and more baby boomers entering the hospital and healthcare systems, the need has become critical.
We are all living longer and healthier. Quality of life is very important to us and we want to retain our health and independence for as long as possible. When we need hospitalization, we are usually reluctant to go because hospitals are understaffed and we demand better care than the hospitals can provide. Because of health insurance policies, hospital stays are shorter and shorter, even if we need more care, and no one wants to stay in the hospital any longer than absolutely necessary. For these reasons, medical care is shifting away from the hospital and toward home health services.
Because of shorter hospital stays people are being discharged from the hospital with drains in their chests, wounds that need to be dressed, intravenous medications that need to be administered, and blood tests that need to be taken at regular intervals. What can we do about this problem? Home health nurses visit patients at home who need medical care provided by a nurse outside the hospital setting. Both Medicare and private insurance companies provide for home health nursing care. It makes economic sense to them as it is far more expensive to keep a patient in the hospital than it is to discharge a patient to their home with home health care as needed.
The patient benefits as well, as it has been proven that people recover more quickly in their own home setting than in a hospital. Home health nurses provide patient care in the comfort of the patient’s own home. They provide dressing changes and wound evaluations, insulin injections for diabetics, blood tests ordered by a physician, and intravenous medications. Keeping a patient in the hospital for these services is not economical for the insurance companies or desirable for the patient.
More and more students that graduate from nursing schools are expressing an interest in home health nursing. Today there are many more home health agencies (with both permanent and temporary positions) than there were several years ago. Home health nurses provide the interim care between hospitalization and full patient recovery. This is a win-win situation for everyone.