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Home Healthcare and Your Mental Health Provider: How We Partner

When you think of Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio, you may think of home healthcare following surgery or hospitalization for a major medical issue. You may not know about how VNA of Ohio can help people with mental illness.

With a staff of nurses, social workers, mental health therapists and visiting psychiatrists, VNA of Ohio is the largest nurse-based mental health homecare service in the state, visiting about 1,000 mental health clients per day.

Amy Silbaugh, manager of clinical development for VNA of Ohio, said the organization serves clients with disorders ranging from schizophrenia to Alzheimer’s disease. Most clients are referred to home healthcare following a hospitalization.

After VNA of Ohio receives a physician’s order, the team visits the client wherever he or she may be: a private home, a shelter or even a public place where they client feels safe. VNA of Ohio’s team then immediately connects with the patients’ doctors, not only the mental health therapists, but also the general practitioners and other specialists responsible for physical health care.

The team creates a bridge between physician and patient -- one of the most important roles VNA of Ohio’s mental health service provides, said Ms. Silbaugh.

“A lot of times, we tell our clients’ physicians things they never would have known,” she said. “We report on what we’re seeing in the home, and that’s usually very different from what they are seeing in the doctor’s office. We are really their eyes and ears when their patient is not with them.”

Mental health clients often cover up their situations or downplay their symptoms. They may not be taking their medications. These behaviors often are caused by their disorders, or they could be embarrassed or afraid of being removed from their homes. But the outcome can be dangerous, Ms. Silbaugh said.

“People with mental disorders tend to neglect their physical health as well as their mental health.” She explained. “We work with all of a client’s doctors to report issues. The homecare nurses also ensure that all of the patient’s medications prescribed by different physicians are reconciled. This avoids duplicate prescriptions or combinations that are contraindicated.”

“To have a nurse involved is invaluable because we can evaluate all the different indicators for medical conditions,” she said. “We have treated people who have untreated diabetes and hypertension and high cholesterol that otherwise would have gone undiagnosed. A lot of times, the client hasn’t seen a doctor in 20 years or more.”

Call VNA of Ohio Today

Learn more about VNA of Ohio mental health services, or call us today at 1-877-698-6264.