When U-M patient Michelle Johnson decided to have infusion therapy in her home instead of in the hospital or by going back to clinic, she joined a group of nearly 1,900 patients who receive HomeMed services.
“I can still work when I’m able,” says Johnson, a young graphic designer, whose fanny pack filled with infusion therapy has helped her avoid trips to U-M two or three times every week. “I’ve even been able to travel. It’s been wonderful.”
“We’re a pharmacy,” says Chris Maksym, director of Pharmacy and Home Care Operations, “yet, because of the nature of our work, we have nurses, pharmacists and dieticians involved in patient care.”
U-M’s home infusion services began more than 30 years ago when pediatric surgeon John Wesley, M.D., went to alternate revenue administrator Raymond Haggerty with a special request. A 16-year-old girl with a twisted intestine needed total parenteral nutrition (TPN)—a catheter or needle that drips nutritional fluid into the patient’s vein for 10 or 12 hours a day—and she would probably need this for the rest of her life. Wesley wanted to find a way for her to go home and avoid daily trips to the hospital. Wesley and others knew that there was a greater need for home infusion pharmacy services for other patients.
U-M initially contracted with an outside vendor to provide pharmacy products, distribution and reimbursement services. Then in 1992, in collaboration with Abbott Laboratories, the University ventured out on its own as the full-service provider known as HomeMed.
“In 90 days, we were up and running,” says Haggerty, who, although retired, is still very much involved with U-M through his membership on the Pediatric Ethics Board. “We started with 100 patients. HomeMed was created through a lot of hard work and luck. We did the right things at the right time.”
Today, HomeMed has more than 100 employees and provides infusion and care management services throughout Michigan. Patients receive antibiotics, chemotherapy, pain medications, parenteral nutrition, inhalation therapies, and specialty drugs compounded in their state-of-the-art clean room.
HomeMed has close working relationships with multiple Health System areas: the Cancer Center, the Hemophilia Treatment Center, and the Children’s Intestinal Rehabilitation Program, whose patients often need lifelong care, treatment, support and education. HomeMed staff meet and work directly with hospitalized patients who will be receiving services.
“I’ve known and worked with HomeMed for more than 15 years,” says Daniel H. Teitelbaum, M.D., professor of surgery and medical director, HomeMed, MedEQUIP, and Wheel Chair Seating Services. “The people and care they provide are not only first class but represent the highest level of homecare that I have ever seen or worked with.”
A nurse and a pharmacist are available 24 hours a day. And HomeMed works with other areas of Homecare Services—MedEQUIP, Michigan Visiting Care, Michigan Visiting Nurses and Wheelchair Seating Service—to serve diverse patient needs.
“We take pride in helping our Health System patients back into their homes as soon as possible,” Maksym says.
For patients like Michelle Johnson, that’s a good reason to be proud.
For more information, visit www.med.umich.edu/homecare.