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Hand Sanitizer and Thermometers Save Lives

Hand-sanitizer-teamFor Eileen Agiya, RN, BSN, and Veleta Boswell, RN, MSN, NP, CRNI, sometimes saving lives is as simple as a bottle of hand sanitizer or a thermometer.

As Home Infusion nurses for Penn Home Care and Hospice Services, they know that preventing infection and monitoring body temperature is imperative when delivering care during regular house visits to patients.

The duo help cover patient care in the five county Philadelphia area and much of South Jersey. They also visit HUP and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine to prepare patients waiting for a transplant, for chemotherapy or other types of infusions,  before being discharged.

Most of their infusion patients, though, are at home or in a residential care facility in the community. For example, after a colon cancer patient is discharged from Penn to go home, a Home Infusion nurse will follow that patient for lab draws, hydration if the patient needs it, antibiotics to fight infection, and more. “We see these patients when they come back home from the hospital,” said Agiya. “Families are anxious. We’re walking in as soon as they are walking in.”

Thanks to a Penn Medicine CAREs grant, Penn Home Infusion can now supply many of its patients with sanitizer and thermometers. “We tell them, wash your hands, but on top of that, every time you touch the PICC [peripherally inserted central catheter] line, you need to use hand sanitizer.”

Knowing a patient’s temperature is especially important for patients on IV total parenteral nutrition. The nurses may draw blood cultures at a body temperature greater than 100.4 F, but some patients are unable to afford a thermometer and also may not have running water in their residence, making this grant even more important.

This supply of sanitizer and thermometers may also prevent 30-day readmissions. “It’s not just home infusion. If we can keep them out of the hospital, we’re fulfilling our role in the continuum of care,” said Boswell.

“We love our jobs, it’s so rewarding,” said Agiya. “Think of how many lives this grant is going to save.”

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