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Lisa McKeon, RN, a nurse with YNHHS’ Home Care Plus of South Central Connecticut, regularly provides wound care and other services to Margaret Devlin in her West Haven home. The health system is expanding its Home Health Services to ensure patients who don’t need to be hospitalized can receive care in a more appropriate and familiar setting. 

A look at: Yale New Haven Health’s Home Health Services

As she has many times before, Lisa McKeon, RN, carefully unwrapped the dressing from Margaret Devlin’s lower legs and feet during a recent home visit.

McKeon smiled and pumped a fist into the air, exclaiming, “We’re seeing progress!”

Devlin, who has had many treatments for the vascular disease-related ulcers over the years, shared her nurse’s excitement. She praised McKeon and the other Home Care Plus of South Central Connecticut (HCPSCC) nurses, who visit her West Haven home three times a week to care for the ulcers and other health conditions.

HCPSCC and Home Care Plus are part of YNHHS’ growing Home Health Services, which serves patients throughout Connecticut who are recovering from illnesses or injuries or managing chronic conditions. The health system expects to acquire VNA Community Healthcare and Hospice of Guilford and Hamden later this month. With the acquisition, YNHHS will be able to serve about 3,500 patients in their homes, up from the current 2,000 patients. The health system also partners with other home healthcare providers throughout Connecticut and in southern Rhode Island. 

The ultimate goal is for YNHHS to provide home health services to about 60 percent of patients discharged from YNHHS’ five hospitals, up from the current 18 percent. 

“That’s how you get continuity of care,” said Samantha DiCicco, YNHHS Home Health executive director. 

In addition to skilled nurses, home health staff include physical, occupational and speech therapists; medical social service workers; and home health aides. Staff provide a wide range of care and services, including medical and surgical nursing, joint replacement therapy, medication management, stroke rehabilitation and diabetes management. When needed, physicians and other providers with YNHHS’ Northeast Medical Group may join home healthcare providers for visits via telehealth.  

One of Home Health Services’ main goals is to provide appropriate care in the most appropriate setting – which for a number of patients might not be the hospital. 

“Home health services allow us to safely discharge patients who no longer need to be in the hospital, and can help keep certain patients with chronic conditions out of the hospital – unless they need to be there,” said Katie O’Leary, RN, YNHHS vice president, Post-Acute Care. 

“Our home health professionals are providing expert care, and their patients are happy to receive that care at home,” DiCicco added.

Devlin is one of those patients. While many people receive home health services for a limited time until their conditions improve, she’s been a patient with HCPSCC (previously the Visiting Nurse Association of South Central Connecticut) for five years. 

“I don’t want to have to go to the hospital if I can avoid it,” Devlin said. “The home health nurses are wonderful.”

Wound care is one of the most common services home health professionals provide, along with care for congestive heart failure, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Other patients receive home health services after being hospitalized for joint replacement or injuries. Many – but not all – home health patients are elderly, DiCicco said.

McKeon manages 20 to 30 patients at a time, conducting about six visits a day. As a case manager, she helps develop new patients’ care plans. During her first visit with a patient, she assesses their medical and functional status, psychosocial issues such as emotional well-being, home safety and other factors. 

A nurse for 38 years, McKeon previously worked in hospitals on different units, including the medical ICU. She switched to home health in part because it offers more schedule flexibility. She appreciates the opportunity to build relationships with her patients and be a resource for them. 

“One of the things I like about home health is that I get to know the whole person,” she said. “I enjoy my patients, and I love what I do.”

Home Health Services, part of YNHHS’ Post-Acute Care Services, also include skilled-nursing facilities. To learn more visit Post-Acute Care Services at YNHHS.