Provider helps patient go home

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Three years after an auto accident left her paralyzed, a 25-year-old ventilator patient left her long-term care facility to move into a home modified by Advent Home Medical.
"Most accident victims are usually home from rehab after six to eight months," said Carlia Cichon, Advent's president and owner. "But under Michigan laws, because she didn't have a home to go back to, she couldn't leave. Her family was desperate."
Feeling compelled to help this patient, Cichon bought a house and Advent covered the $70,000 cost of modifying it. While Cichon declined to say what she paid for the house, she said the family's insurance covers the cost of the rent, which the family pays to Cichon every month.
"They can stay forever if they want," she said. "Eventually, if they want to purchase it, that's another option."
Advent has consulted on home modifications for ventilator patients before, but this time hired a builder to work with them on the entire project.
"We've been assisting modifying homes for years," said Cichon. "This time we had to come up with the money. We took this group of builders and showed them other homes. They met with the patient and were able to visualize what we were trying to do."
Outfitting a house for a ventilator patient--many of whom may have little or no upper body movement--involves more than just installing a wheelchair ramp, said Cichon. From the layout of the rooms right down to the placement of electrical outlets, every aspect of modifying a home is specific to the individual patient.
"You design the home around how easy it's going to be for the caregivers to take care of this patient and how we can make this house look like a home and not a hospital," said Cichon.
The house, a ranch, was ideal.
"You want at least 80% of the house accessible to the patient," said Cichon. "A ranch is just one floor and then we opened the rooms up to make larger rooms."
Pocket doors tuck out of the way and cabinets with enclosed shelving hide medical supplies. In the bathroom, the shower has double swing doors and two showerheads with thermostats.
"Spinal cord injury patients have very little feeling below the shoulders," said Cichon. "They can't tell you if the water's too hot."
While this project was a special case, Cichon said the company may expand into doing home modifications as a business in the future.
Word is already spreading since the project's completion.
"We get calls everyday from case managers since we did this," said Cichon.