Archive for the ‘Home health care tips from experts’ Category

Back to school asthma action plan with PHS

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Back to school can be a frazzled time for families as you try to get back into some sort of routine. PHS is here to help make this transition a little less stressful by helping you gather all the necessary items for you child with asthma to be prepared for the new year. PHS Asthma Educator, Kay Kufahl, RRT-NPS, LRT, AE-C, talks about asthma action plans and the three necessary supplies to bring to a school nurse for your child.  Having all of these items ready to go at the beginning of the year will ensure the school is ready to give your child the best possible care.

How do you prepare to get back into “school mode” with your family. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with PHS? Just leave a comment below!

Caring for Your Food Pump at Home

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Food pump cleaning instructions

Your child’s food pump alarm is going off. Again. What do the alarms mean, and how can you most efficiently keep food pumps clean and operating smoothly?

Infusion Nursing Coordinator Gail Fields, RN, takes you through basic cleaning steps, helpful tips, recognizing pump alarms, and how to turn down the alarm volume on your child’s food pump. We only advise making the alarm quieter for little ones who startle easily.

Food pump door replacement, battery info

Gail also shows you how to replace the door on your child’s food pump and explains details of the food pump battery, including how long it should hold a charge, troubleshooting tips, and charging cable options.

Remember, PHS clinicians are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week to help with your child’s food pump: 651-642-1825.

How do you clean and maintain your food pump? Any tips to share? We welcome your input.

How to unclog feeding tubes with Clog Zapper

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

If your child uses a feeding tube, you know it helps conveniently provide necessary nutrition and sometimes medications. But not when it’s clogged. Clogged feeding tubes interrupt important feedings and can cause frustration and discomfort. To keep lines clear, PHS and many of our families use the Clog Zapper .

Clog Zapper is convenient and easy to use.  In this video, PHS Dietician Janelle Peterson, RD, LD, CNSD, takes you step-by-step through using the product to keep your child on track and avoid replacing feeding tubes.

Thanks, Janelle!

Find other helpful video on the PHS YouTube channel.

Have you used Clog Zapper or other tube clog production? Any tips to share? We’d love to hear about it.

Proper hand washing is No. 1 way to prevent infection

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Clean hands can save lives.

Infections pose a health threat for any child—especially as we head into the flu season and spend more time indoors—but they can be particularly devastating for medically-fragile children with weakened immune systems. For these kids, illness, recurring infections, and hospitalization can be life threatening.

Proper hand washing is the best defense.

It’s quick, easy, and the single most effective thing you can do to stop the spread of germs and prevent infection at home or in the hospital, in school or at work, or anywhere in the community.

It’s important to do it right.

Watch PHS Nurse Educator Jill Wall, RN, BSN, CRNI, demonstrate proper hand washing techniques and hear what she says about hand sanitizers on the PHS YouTube channel.



How to wash your hands

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, scrubbing for 40 to 60 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
  • Get in between all the fingers and wash thoroughly around fingernails and any jewelry, all the way up to and including the wrists.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly and dry them vigorously with a paper or clean cloth towel. Turn the water off using the towel to protect your clean hands.

Waterless cleaning with hand sanitizer

Soap and water are best, but if they aren’t available, hand sanitizers are a good second choice. Use enough of the sanitizer to thoroughly wet your hands and wrists, rub all over for 20 to 30 seconds, again including the wrists, until the sanitizer is completely dry.

Get our free PHS hand washing guide

Call PHS at 651-642-1825 and ask a customer service representative for a free hand washing guide. Keep it handy to prevent the spread of infection in your home.

Good hand washing is a simple thing, but not always practiced. Do you have any advice on how to make sure people remember to wash their hands, and do it properly? What other things do you do to stop the spread of germs at home or when you are out and about?

We’d love to hear from you.

Pediatric infusion therapy meets unique needs

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Children are not small adults, especially when it comes to home infusion therapy.

They’re growing and need care, treatment, and equipment geared to their little bodies and changing needs. And—depending on their age and maturity level—children may not even be able to tell caregivers what those needs are, how they feel, or where it hurts.

Prescription for pediatric patients: treat kids like kids

Health care providers must consider a host of factors when treating children—especially children with serious, chronic, and often life-threatening illnesses.

Drawing on her experience in building an organization geared to respond to the unique needs of the pediatric population, PHS President Susan Wingert shared some insights on this topic in an article appearing in the September/October issue of INFUSION magazine. INFUSION is the official journal of the National Home Infusion Association and the nation’s leading publication covering the field of alternate-site infusion therapy.

The story, Meeting the Unique Needs of the Pediatric Home Care Patients—Lessons from a Full-Service Provider,”  was one of a series in an issue focused on alternate-site infusion across the lifespan. Following is just a brief look at some of what Susan had to say about the pediatric population.

What makes pediatric patients different from adults?

  • Children metabolize drugs differently than adults.
  • Children are constantly growing.
  • Smaller body size means different needs.
  • Children aren’t always able to understand their condition or even that the medical team is trying to help them.
  • When the child is the patient, the entire family is often involved in the treatment.
  • Coordinating care is especially important for providers working with pediatric patients as growth and other factors call for more frequent assessments.

Considerations in treating kids with serious illnesses

PHS staff is keenly aware of the clinical and support factors that need to be considered with medically-fragile pediatric patients at home and devises strategies to address them:

  • High-tech equipment needs to fit little bodies. Fortunately, finding medical equipment isn’t as challenging as it once was. Medical suppliers now offer smaller catheters and tubing, small-volume pumps, and backpacks that hold IV solution and pumps so children can be more active.
  • Clinical care plans are customized for each child. A multidisciplinary team is needed, including the physician, family, and all providers who will be involved in the care at home.
  • Caregivers are trained. Family members and other caregivers are trained to use the equipment, administer medications and troubleshoot. Materials and teaching tools are provided and parents are encouraged to call with questions anytime.
  • The PHS pharmacy is designed for kids. PHS pharmacists are clinical experts in pediatric care, and understand weight-based pediatric dosing, as well as the differences in drug metabolism between pediatric and adult patients.
  • Support is provided for families. PHS provides resources and training for family members, as well as assistance with billing and insurance coverage and reimbursement.

Want to know more, plus see some shining examples of kids who are living life to the fullest despite serious health problems and early dire prognoses? Read the full story.

Immunization for your kids- when, what, how?

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Immunizing kids—babies, children, adolescents and also preteens—is often the best way to protect them from many contagious and serious diseases that can affect them throughout their lives. So it’s not surprising that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that childhood immunization rates remain high in the U.S., with coverage for most routine vaccines at or over 90 percent.

Talk to your doctor first

While immunizations help prevent and control outbreaks of diseases that were once common, parents may have questions and concerns about vaccines. PHS clinical staff members highly encourage you consult a doctor before getting an immunization or flu shot for your child. Every child has different needs, and some medically-fragile children may not be able to receive some of the routinely recommended vaccines.

Get facts about flu vaccines

Flu shots are especially important for children with chronic medical conditions that put them at high risk of having serious flu-related complications as well as their caregivers. Again, talk to your child’s doctor first. To avoid one more needle prick, parents may choose flu mist over a flu shot. Yet, flu mist, which is a live vaccine, isn’t as highly recommended for children with immunosuppression and a higher risk of getting the infection.

Vaccines recommended for children

The vaccines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) include:

  • DTaP, to protect against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, which can cause the liver disease hepatitis
  • Polio to protect against polio
  • MMR, to protect against measles, mumps and rubella
  • Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), which can lead to meningitis and pneumonia
  • Meningococcal (MCV), to protect against common types of meningitis
  • Influenza (flu) to protect against seasonal flu
  • Rotavirus (RV), to protect against rotavirus, which can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and dehydration
  • Varicella, to protect against chickenpox
  • Pneumococcal (PCV) to protect against pneumococcal disease, which can lead to meningitis, pneumonia, and ear infections
  • HPV to protect against human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer

Immunization schedule: when to get shots

It’s important to get immunizations at the correct time. While immunization schedules may vary depending on your child, your doctor, and the vaccine, we recommend downloading these handy, easy-to-read immunization charts from the Minnesota Department of Health. You can choose from six languages (English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish or Vietnamese) and quickly see what shots are needed when for kids of all ages.

Keep up with flu news

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other viruses, an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus.

Keep a record of your child’s vaccinations

Ask your doctor or nurse for a record card with all the dates of your child’s shots, keep it updated, and bring it to every visit.

If you have questions, get answers

  • Talk to your health care provider about immunizations and vaccines
  • Consult reliable online information resources, such as the immunization area on the AAP website; it has lots of information, all supported by scientific research
  • Visit the PHS website Resource Library or talk to a PHS clinician

Do you have any questions, thoughts or comments on immunizations or vaccinations? Any experiences to share that might help others?

We’d love to hear from you.

Sending kids with asthma back to school

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

By: Kay Kufahl, RRT-NPS, LRT, AE-C and Barb Lehn, RRT-NPS, LRT, AE-C

It happens every year. Commonly called the September Asthma Epidemic, researchers have tracked a predictable increase in ER visits, hospital admissions and unscheduled doctor visits that peak 17 days after Labor Day — Sept. 23 this year.

The PHS Asthma Department offers this checklist for parents who are sending children with asthma back to school:

See your doctor before school begins (or as soon as you can) for an up-to-date asthma action plan for during the school day

  • As your child grows and changes, so does his or her action plan

Give the school a copy of your action plan

  • Different schools handle meds differently, so having your child’s action plan on file ensures a nurse won’t waste time and can properly administer the right treatment
  • In addition to the school nurse, ensure your child’s teacher and any staff member who will have regular contact with your child also has a copy of the asthma action plan. Teachers should also be aware of the child’s asthma.

- Meet your child’s teacher

  • If your child has other medical conditions, you’re probably well-acquainted with your school’s nurse, teachers and other staff members
  • Tell the teacher about your child’s daily meds
  • Schedule a separate meeting with him or her if needed
  • Share details of your child’s early warning signs and symptoms of a severe flare
  • Ask if there will be any classroom pets or visits from animals
  • Discuss upcoming field trips
  • Talk about your older child having his or her inhaler with them; it’s legal in Minnesota, but you must complete the required permissions

- Fill inhaler prescriptions before the first day

  • You may need a new quick reliever inhaler for school
  • Have one inhaler for school; one for home
  • Check inhalers
  • Make sure the valved holding chamber is in good working condition
  • Remember, inhalers expire: make sure yours are not expired

If you use a liquid quick reliever, bring it and a few hand held nebulizer kits to school

  • Don’t forget the mask
  • Ensure you have enough hand held nebulizer kits for home and school use

Continue to use your daily controller medications

  • Remember, these take time to build up in the body so staying on a schedule is important

Stay in tune

  • Make changes to your asthma action plan and communicate these to your child’s school nurse and teachers
  • Visit the PHS website Resource Library for more asthma website resources

What helps your child with asthma to avoid episodes during the school year? What works for your family and your school?

We’d love to hear from you.

Back-to-school lessons to help keep your child infection free

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Once you get your children back to school, you’d also like to keep them there. School allows kids to learn from other kids through projects and play. Yet school is also prime germ-spreading time. Illnesses are inconvenient for all families, but infections can be downright dangerous for medically-fragile kids, who can be exposed at school themselves or through school-age siblings.

Here are some tips to help all kids stay infection free:

1. Wash your hands.

It takes just a minute, yet hand washing is the single best way to avoid getting sick. Teach your kids how to properly cleanse their hands and encourage them to do so often at school. First thing to do when they get home? Wash their hands. Second, get a hug from you.

Check out PHS’s Handwashing Guide or call 651-642-1825 and we’ll send you a free guide to put by the sink in your bathroom or kitchen.

2. Cough and sneeze nicely, please.

Teach children to cough or sneeze into a tissue, then immediately throw it away. Or, cough or sneeze into their shirtsleeves—not into their hands, which quickly spread germs. Better yet, after coughs and sneezes, wash those hands again.

3. Sick? Stay home.

Never send a sick child to school. We suggest these guidelines:

  • Sniffling: sniffles alone are probably fine (send a box of tissue for your child’s classroom supply), but if sniffles are accompanied by aches and fever, it could be flu, so stay home.
  • Chills, Sweats: stay home with a fever (temp 100°F or higher taken orally). See a doctor if there are also white patches on the tonsils; it could be highly contagious strep throat.
  • Coughing: if it’s deep, causes shortness of breath and brings up green mucus, stay home and see a doctor.
  • Earache: when accompanied by fever or cold symptoms, stay home.
  • Pinkeye: bright red eyes with creamy white mucus in the corners that mats the eyelashes. It’s highly contagious so stay home.
  • Lice (lice pediculosis): stay home until treated and all adult and immature lice are gone.
  • Strep Throat (Streptococcal infection, group A): stay home until 24 hours after adequate antimicrobial treatment started.
  • Chicken Pox (Varicella): stay home until all lesions are dry and crusted. If you are exposed, you should stay home from the 10th day after the first exposure through day 21 after the last exposure.

No flu for you

Back-to-school season also begins prime flu season. PHS follows the Centers for Disease Control recommendations and encourages caregivers to contact their physicians for scheduling seasonal and H1N1 vaccines when appropriate. For more information, visit this website or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-323-4636).

PHS is available as a resource to answer any questions you might have about keeping your home infection free. Email us or call her: 651-642-1825.

What helps you stay healthy during the school year? What works for your family and your school?

We’d love to hear from you.