Health Team

Home infusion helps lessen hospital stays

Posted October 8, 2009 3:53 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2009 6:24 p.m. EDT

— Nobody wants to stay in a hospital if they don't really need to be there. Many patients stay simply to receive a steady flow of intravenous medication.

Infusion nurses from the Duke University Health System HomeCare and Hospice program are bringing that process home, eliminating the need for that long, costly hospital stay.

Nurse Larry Stevens makes old-fashioned house calls. “The environment at home in most cases is actually safer than being in the hospital,” Stevens said. “In the hospital, there's just so many more bacteria and viruses that you're exposed to.”

In Roxboro, he gives Joseph Lubert the medicine he needs as he prepares for a heart transplant.

“It’s so that my heart can build itself up so that if they actually operate on me, I won't die,” Lubert explained.

The IV goes deep in his arm to a central line. The deeper vessels can handle stronger medicines.

“The IV will last longer,” Stevens said. That means fewer needle sticks for Lubert and fewer home visits for Stevens.

Stevens also works with cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and with other patients receiving strong antibiotics. He teaches them how to do a lot of the work for themselves.

With everything strapped to his side, Lubert can get in his daily exercise, helping to build up strength for his life-saving operation.