New Monitoring System for Home Health Patients

June 21, 2006 -- Posted at 3:40 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- St. Bernards Home Healthcare is using a different way to make sure their patients receive the best care.

Now, patients can stay in the comfort of their own homes and be monitored by a small machine.

A small device about the size of an alarm clock is used daily to record a patient's vital signs. The machine checks their blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level.

"The vital signs are transmitted to our office, and a nurse looks at them everyday, so the patient knows that someone is checking on them," said Toots Lambreth, director of St. Bernards Home Healthcare.

The machine is connected through telephone wire.

"We are using it to provide better care for our patients at home to try to keep them out of the hospital," said Lambreth.

Robert Cohen has used the system since last fall.

"We've had it since we came back from a hospital stay from congestive heart failure," said Cohen.

"We use it for a lot of patients who have a high frequency of hospitalizations," said Lambreth.

Erika Cohen helps her husband take his vital signs each morning.

"Every morning at 8 a.m. we kind of know what's going to happen. The lady comes up and says, 'Good Morning,' and from then on we go and take the blood pressure," said Erika Cohen.

"Sometimes a single reading doesn't mean so much, but an accumulation over several hours or a few days can make a difference," said Robert Cohen.

St. Bernards currently has 30 of the machines and all of them are currently in use. The program is so successful more monitors are needed.

"We are in the process of purchasing 21 new monitors and we're really excited about that," said Lambreth.

Lambreth says they have thought about putting the monitors in nursing homes for patients who have high blood pressure.