Gold Coast Health is delivering patient care in the comfort of home for paediatric patients who are at greater risk of infection, reducing hospital trips and anxiety during COVID-19.
Increasing the scope of care the Children’s Hospital in the Home (CHITH) service can provide during the pandemic has made the world of difference to immunocompromised patients undergoing cancer treatment like four-year-old Scout Pederson.
Scout, her parents and two older brothers are quarantining at home to protect her while she undergoes intensive chemotherapy to fight acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
As part of her treatment, Scout requires blood tests every one-two weeks which up until recently, required trips to Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH).
Thanks to initiatives put in place during the pandemic, Clinical Nurse Michelle Noyes can now visit the Pederson’s home and take Scout’s blood from her port line.
“Being an advanced practice nurse allows me to review children at home and liaise with their Paediatrician if admission to hospital is required,” Michelle said.
“The pandemic has given us the opportunity to evaluate some of our practices and see what we can do to reduce presentations and lower our patients’ exposure to potential infections.
“As a result we have been able to offer numerous home visits to perform blood tests and central line care for children aged between three and 17 years-old in the last few weeks.”
Noelle Pederson said while reducing her daughter’s exposure to infection while she had no protection against common bugs was crucial, the psychological benefits were also clear.
“Scout’s treatment is shared between Gold Coast Health and the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, and she has endured many admissions over the past four months, so the more care we can do at home the better,” Noelle said.
“Trips to hospital for Scout are stressful at the best of times, so it’s a huge relief for her and us not to have to worry about going as often, especially at the moment.”
Paediatric Senior Staff Specialist Dr Jennifer Deacon said some specific changes to practice were helping to prevent not just hospital trips, but hospital stays.
“We’ve doubled the bed days saved since February. Last month we avoided 133 bed days, with 18 children receiving their hospital care at home,” Dr Deacon said.
“From administering intravenous steroids and antibiotics to overnight oximetry in a child’s own bed, we’re learning a lot about how we can advance the care of our patients in their homes at this time, and we are seeing some great benefits in the process.”
CHITH delivered care to 126 children last year, saving 972 bed days on the Children’s ward.
GCUH provides shared oncology care with the Queensland Children’s Hospital, for Gold Coast children needing treatment for leukaemia and cancer.