Health Beat - Fall 2016 - 11

"I couldn't believe it," says Macey,
who is retired after a long career with
the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and
the Kansas Highway Patrol. "After all
they'd done for me, they even made
house calls. That really saves patients
from having to get up and out of the
house so soon after a major surgery."

A Case for Home Visits
The service was especially welcome
after the whirlwind that led Macey to
require bypass surgery in the first place.
Macey was home recuperating from
sinus surgery when he felt an unmistakable twinge in his left arm. His wife,
Barbara, called 911, and paramedics
took him to Salina Regional, where tests
revealed he'd had a minor heart attack.
"They said it was mild, but it wasn't
mild to me," Macey recalls. "Everyone
knew exactly what to do and exactly
what was going on, from the ambulance
guys to the doctors and nurses in the ER.
Everyone was absolutely outstanding."
A heart test ultimately revealed
Macey had three significantly blocked
arteries and he would require triple
bypass surgery.

Home After Heart Surgery
Lance Krueger, a physician assistant
with the Heart Center at Salina
Regional Health Center, provides
an in-home assessment to Raymond
Macey a few days after Macey was
discharged from the hospital after
triple bypass heart surgery.

quality of care," says Richard Toon,
MD, cardiothoracic surgeon at Salina
Regional Health Center. "Really, it's a
commitment to personalized care and
making sure patients transition back
home smoothly."
Raymond Macey, 84, of Salina was
pleased to find out about the service
in April after he'd returned home from
triple bypass heart surgery. Lance
Krueger, a physician assistant on staff
at the Heart Center, made the visit.
Krueger checked Macey's vitals, listened to his heart and lungs, checked
his weight and went over medication
usage during the visit.

Home visits are aimed squarely at reducing complications from heart surgery
that are preventable. The old standard
included a follow-up appointment in
the office four weeks after surgery-or
sooner, if concerns arose. That's a long
time for complications to develop, which
could lead to visits to the emergency
department or even readmission to
the hospital.
Patients who have undergone major
heart surgery understandably may
have trouble following all of the directions for home care after all they've
been through.
"From a typical patient's perspective, things can be very confusing at
the hospital when it's time to go home,"
Krueger says. "They might receive
10 pages of information about follow-up
care and a list of all of the medicines
and when to take them, and it can be
hard for a patient to absorb all of that
information. Especially considering
it comes at a time when they're really

just focused on getting back to the comforts of their own home."
The home visits include a physical
exam, checking blood pressure and
pulse, weight, body temperature and
surgical sites for signs of infection.
This one-on-one time with patients
has been well received and has proved
useful for heading off a number of
potential complications after surgery.
"We commonly serve people who
don't want to feel like a bother or ask
questions," Krueger says. "But when
you take the time to sit with these
folks in their homes, they'll open up
and ask all sorts of questions. Maybe
they'll ask about whether their sleeping
arrangements are OK, or should they
be feeling this or that. Everyone has
questions, and most people feel more
comfortable asking questions after
they've returned home."
Doctors are quick to point out that
home visits do not replace other in-home
services people may need, but they
are focused on making sure the overall
recovery process is off to a good start.
"The spirit of the service is to do
the very best for the patient," Toon
says. "It allows us the opportunity to
go out and double-check our methods
to ensure all is going according to plan
and address any potential issues when
patients' minds are much clearer."

Road to Recovery
A couple of months after surgery,
Macey said he was happy with the
progress he'd made. He hadn't yet
regained all of his strength but felt
all was going according to plan.
"They said it might take three
months before I really started feeling
good and maybe six months before
a total recovery," Macey says. "But
I haven't had any pain or problems
other than I felt terribly weak those
first couple of weeks after surgery.
"I can't speak highly enough about
these people," Macey says. "The whole
team, all the way through, really has
been first class." 1


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Health Beat - Fall 2016

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