Finding The Right Oxygen And Delivery System Can Be Challenging
THANKS TO THE ERIN POPOVICH ENDOWMENT, A NEW TOOLKIT MAKES IT EASIER
Imagine having your freedom taken away because you were prescribed the wrong medical equipment. Unfortunately, that’s the reality that so many oxygen-dependent patients face on a daily basis.
Stephanie Hodgins, a compliance manager who has been working with pulmonary patients for the last 25 years, knows patients who haven’t left their homes in months because they can’t handle lugging around a 20-pound oxygen tank.
“These patients are being given equipment that negatively impacts their quality of life when in actuality, there may be options that are better suited to them,” says Stephanie.
A TRICKY PROBLEM
When patients hear they need oxygen, most automatically assume they’ll be given a heavy tank. The problem is that a tank may or may not be the right delivery system for their medical needs and lifestyle. “Patients, caregivers, and even clinicians don’t know what’s on the market because patient-friendly resources just don’t exist,” she says.
Stephanie goes on to point out that there are now portable battery-powered oxygen concentrators, which are really the standard of care today. “Patients don’t know they can ask for something like that, and insurance companies certainly aren’t going to offer it up.”
“These patients are being given equipment that negatively impacts their quality of life when in actuality, there may options that are better suited to them.”
Stephanie distinctly remembers when one of her patients was discharged from the hospital and had left their oxygen tank in the car because it was too heavy for them to carry. “That’s when I knew I needed to take action.”
She reached out to the Foundation for help, and funding for the project was secured through the Erin Popovich Endowment. Today, the Oxygen Toolkit contains:
- Every type of oxygen and delivery system available
- Tips and tricks for patients and caregivers
- Access to local support groups and resources
- Words of encouragement from fellow oxygen users
- Essential supplies (lip balm, band aids, medical tape, extra tubing, and more)
“It really helps when patients come in and are already aware of their options. They want to be proactive in their care, and this gives them the opportunity to do so,” says Stephanie.
“Once we get patients on the correct equipment, it’s life-changing. People who were once homebound are now hopping in their car to go see their grandkids. That’s what makes all this work worthwhile.”
FULFILLING ERIN’S VISION
One of the three pillars of the Erin Popovich Endowment, empowerment, seeks to improve patient independence through education. The Oxygen Toolkit does just that be enabling patients to have informed conversations with their clinicians in order to find the right type of oxygen and delivery system based upon their unique needs.
“Once we get patients on the correct equipment, it’s life-changing. People who were once homebound are now hopping in their car to go see their grandkids. That’s what makes all this work worthwhile,” says Stephanie.
THE O2 TOOLKIT IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
While the Oxygen Toolkit was originally created to help educate and encourage patients, it is now fulfilling a secondary, more urgent need. As COVID-19 continues to affect “at-risk” populations across the country, the toolkit will be supplemented with additional materials that are directly related to the pandemic, including educational videos on how to clean disposable respiratory equipment in an emergency when replacement disposable units may be in short supply and help sheets that explain when patients should be calling their health-care providers. These additional resources will help oxygen-dependent patients, often referred to as our “silent sufferers,” get the support they need during this crisis.
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The Donor Spotlight June 2020 issue is also available as a PDF Download the PDF»