Thrive by IU Health

April 22, 2021

‘Hospital at home’ patient: ‘They spoiled me. I couldn't have asked for better care’

IU Health Saxony Hospital

‘Hospital at home’ patient: ‘They spoiled me. I couldn't have asked for better care’

In April, IU Health launched a program for ill COVID-19 patients that allowed them to recover in the comfort of their home. Now, the program, “Hospital at Home” is expanding to other patients who don’t require acute in-hospital care. Here’s how one patient recovered with the aid of the program.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Her plate is full. There isn’t much room for anything else in this year. Sue Davis has suffered a severe bout of COVID-19; the loss of her beloved husband from the same virus; and the sale of the family business.

Through it all, she says the one bright spot; the one thing that gave her hope is when she was able to recover in the privacy and comfort of her home.

It was July 13th when Davis drove her husband of 33 years, Richard “Allen” Davis to the emergency department at IU Health Saxony. Within no time at all, Allen Davis was transported to IU Health North Hospital. He was in ICU and in the care of a medical team that included IU Health Dr. David Roe who specializes in pulmonary critical care.

“He was very sick. He couldn’t stay awake; he had no energy; no sense of taste or smell; and a significant shortness of breathe,” said Sue Davis. The New Castle residents have two adult daughters Lisa Miller and Lindsay Brown, and four grandchildren. Their marriage was built around “Rose Cottage,” a llama farm just west of Cadiz in Henry County. They started the farm with two geldings named “Prince” and “Romeo,” and as their interest grew the farm became home to the one-time national grand champion wool male llama named “Conductor.” Allen became a show judge with the Alpaca and Llama Show Association, taking the couple on trips throughout the US and Canada.

In addition to the family farm, Allen Davis owned and operated AJ Pools for 42 years. Sue made a career in special education and today works as the special education coordinator for Shenandoah School Corporation.

The life that the couple built changed drastically when Allen was diagnosed with COVID-19. Three days later Sue was so ill she could barely get out of bed. She called her family physician IU Health’s Dr. Steve Hill who encouraged her to come directly to ER.

“I drove myself to the hospital. I was put on an IV and oxygen and didn’t leave for 10 days,” said Sue, who turned 73 in September. When she was released to go home, Davis became part of the “Hospital at Home” program that provides remote around-the-clock care. Nurses provided her with virtual visits and kept tab on her vital signs, respiratory status, symptoms, and progress throughout the day. Davis was one of more than 150 COVID-19 patients who benefitted from Hospital at Home. The program is a coordinated effort with Home Health, Remote Monitoring, Integrated Care Management, Care Alliance, Population Health, IUHP physicians and hospitalists and inpatient nurses who work together to define the criteria for which patients can safely participate. This includes medical factors like pre-existing conditions, vital signs, and oxygen levels, as well as social factors like having a good space in their home and a caregiver living with them full time.

With the help of her daughter, Davis was an ideal candidate for the program and remained in the care of Hospital at Home for three weeks. As a result of the program’s success, this month it is expanding to patients with other illnesses that don’t necessarily require acute in-hospital care, including some patients with congestive heart failure, pneumonia and other infections. Over the coming months the program will reach patients served by multiple IU Health hospitals around the state.

“I don’t know if I was blessed or it was the luck of the draw but the nurses who cared for me were incredible. I remember laying in bed with a room full of oxygen tanks near by and thinking, ‘I have to get better so I can care for Allen,’” said Davis. On August 13, a month after taking her husband to ER, Davis was again called to his bedside. He was in a coma and he was not rebounding from the virus. The same nurses who cared for Sue Davis remotely, cried with her when her husband passed.

“As sick as we were, I thought Allen and I would pass away at the same time,” said Davis. In the months that followed she sold the family business, equipment and farm animals. “I know that through the care I received I have been able to recover and I can go to sleep at night knowing that the infectious disease doctors and all those who cared for Allen did the best they could do,” said Davis.

“People ask me what my goals are now and they are simple. I have is to get through every day. I thank God every night that I made it through the day.”

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