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Celebrating 25 Years of Helping Children with Medical Complexities Thrive

DSC_2876A lot has changed in home care over the last quarter century. In 1990, the idea of bringing patients with such complex medical needs home to receive care was revolutionary. Today, vent-dependent children aren’t just going home on durable medical equipment, they’re living lives filled with jobs, sports and family. Patients in need of infusion therapy don’t need to drive to the clinic multiple times a week to get their care, they’re receiving it from the comfort of their living room.

Pediatric Home Service is proud to have been there through our patients’ journeys. Pediatric Home Respiratory Service started with six people, a card table, and a vision that children could grow up at home instead of the hospital. Today, it’s a company with more than 400 employees dedicated to providing comprehensive care, extending well beyond just respiratory.MarvinMartian316 - Copy (2)

Over the years, services have expanded to meet patient needs and now include infusion nursing & pharmacy, home care nursing, feeding support, and more.

And while the company has grown, moved, and shifted, one thing hasn’t changed – a dedication to taking care of the child.

A Simple Mission

The concept behind PHS was simple – children should be able to grow up in their home. But this idea was revolutionary for two reasons. In 1990, there wasn’t a home care company that focused on pediatrics, and children as complex as those PHS was bringing home were typically spending their lives in the hospital.

Sandi with PHS patient“It was quite exciting to be starting a new company. Especially when a lot of people didn’t think we’d succeed,” remembers Sandi Maguire, Managing Director of Home Care Nursing and one of the original staff. “In the time of all these large hospital-based national companies, people didn’t think some small ma and pop company could make a go of it.”

With many of the founders having worked in the respiratory therapy field for some time previously, word soon got out about Pediatric Home Respiratory Service, and referrals started flowing in. And with kiddos coming on service with large pieces of durable medical equipment meant for the hospital setting, staff quickly learned how to turn a living room into a mini ICU.

Making it Work: Equipment at Home

Bruce and pt_cropWith few pediatric patients coming home on ventilators in 1990, staff at PHS had another challenge ahead. They needed to adapt hospital equipment to function not only for infants and children, but at home rather than in the hospital.

“We adapted everything that wasn’t made for kids but needed to function for them,” says Susan Wingert, the founder and owner of PHS.

Founding members remember bandaging cylinders of oxygen together for patients, as there wasn’t typically space in a house. This involved having to enlist carpentry services to run high pressure hosing from the basement where the oxygen could be stored.

Fortunately, portability was always a focus and as equipment became more compact. PHS staff worked to adapt it so patients could continue their lives despite needing these life-sustaining attachments.

Growing To Meet Patient Needs

LucasH26PHS was now covering the respiratory care needs of many children throughout Minnesota. However, many patients were also in need of other services which were provided by other companies.

“We had families who had to remember ‘if it’s a ventilator need, I’m going to call PHS. But if it’s an infusion need, I’ll call ABC Company,’ and so on,” says Sandi. “As we expanded into infusion and nutrition, and then home care nursing, we knew it would benefit these families. Now, they could make one call and be able to reach whoever they needed related to their child’s care.”

In response to patient and provider requests and a desire to provide the most comprehensive care, services were added throughout the years. Here’s a breakdown of when additional care services began:

1995 – In-Home Asthma Management

“The goal was to sit down with the family and child, and have them bring out all of the asthma medications and devices. We would  make sure they really understood what their physician wanted them to do.” – Kay Kufahl, founder & Asthma Manager

1996 – Infusion Nursing & Pharmacy

“Being able to do SCIG at home has been the best decision we have made,” shares Rachel, mother to PHS patient Olivia. “When she first started getting IVIG at the hospital we would be there for hours. Now, we are able to do infusions on our own time, which means Olivia doesn’t miss school or gymnastics and we can spend time together as a family.”

2003 – Nutrition

“We work very closely with the feeding clinics to support their recommendations . We enhance how we get children to transition from the infusion nutrition, enteral nutrition, and into introducing foods if possible.”- Judy Giel, Chief Clinical Officer

2005 – Social Services

“If a family is worried about not being able to pay their light bill or where they’re going to get their next meal, then they can’t be the best caregivers they can be. So what can we do to help them navigate this life?” – Becki Long, Director of Therapies & Education

2011 – Home Care Nursing

“The thing that sets us apart is our commitment to orientation with PHS, and our orientation into these individual kids’ homes. We never leave them for a shift until they are 100% confident and competent.” Mark Hamman, President

IMG_8771Beyond medical care services being added, support departments such as bio medical, education, and the warehouse were formalized to ensure the needs of the whole child were met.

To support the medical community outside of the PHS walls, Sharing Care was created in 2008 to expand our vision of taking care of the child to include those in our local community. In the past year, PHS employees have donated over 550 hours to organizations that serve our patient population – see other statistics about Sharing Care here.

In the Next 25  

_T6K3432_cropAs PHS looks back on how much (and how little) things have changed in the last 25 years, there’s an excitement in looking ahead to what the next 25 will bring. With a growing staff, potential for expanding services, and opportunities to make working with us as seamless as possible for both families and providers, the options seem almost limitless.

But one thing will certainly never change – our employees’ dedication to coming to work each day and providing the highest level of care possible to each child. Because they deserve to live – and thrive – at home.

Originally published: January 28, 2015