A good friend of mine had the misfortune of a family member seriously injuring themselves in a fall accident. Her mother fell down a set of stairs while visiting relatives out-of-state which resulted in a lengthy hospital stay. My friend rushed to Montana to be by her mother's side. Thankfully her mother is on a steady road to recovery, and is now back home with her family. However the discharge process was less than smooth, and more than stressful. Here are a few ideas to help make a stressful situation a little easier.
When you are dealing with the trauma of a loved one, the moment is often all that matters. If you can look ahead to recovery, you will gain hope and the ability to make a smooth transition back home. Trauma resulting in hospital stays will often require special medical equipment in the home during recovery. Most of the time we try to get all of this lined-up at the last minute. The inability to have everything ready could delay discharge from the hospital resulting in another day or two stay in the hospital.
Once the situation has calmed-down, it is time to start puting the puzzle together. It isn't that difficult as long as you know where to find all of the pieces. Start in the hospital. The professionals working with your loved one will be your best resource. Physical therapists will know what the most important Home Medical Equipment (HME) will be. Ask them for a starter list, and ask them to keep you updated with any changes or additions. These items will often include: Wheelchairs, crutches, toilet risers, bed frames, oxygen, walkers, grab bars, etc. Begin compiling this list as soon as you are able.
The next step will be to visit the hospital's discharge planner (case manager). This is the individual within the hospital responsible for transitioning your family member back into the home. Discharge planners have access to lists of providers able to supply the HME needed for your family member to go home. There are typically several providers in an area that could provide the HME you will need. The trick is to make sure you pick the right one. Ask the discharge coordinator specific questions. Find out if any providers come more reccomended by patients than others. Ask if the provider has the ability to bill your specific insurance. Then google the providers you are interested in using and see what information the search provides.
Finally, begin dialogue with the HME provider. Find out about delivery schedules, co-pays, and follow-up service. What are their hours of operation? For larger equipment such as air surfaces and negtive pressure, will they be available in the middle of the night if something goes wrong with the product? There are several HME providers, but not all provide the same level of service. A good HME provider will work with you to make the transition home easy and stress-free.