Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a chronic lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. The disease is increasingly common, affecting millions of Americans, and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association.
Traditional, outpatient center-based pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a common intervention as part of a broader COPD care plan. Saint Francis' outpatient PR program results in substantial improvements for patients across multiple outcome areas including improvements in breathlessness, exercise capacity, functional status, self-efficacy, quality of life, and health care utilization. Despite these documented, positive outcomes, it is often difficult to get discharged COPD patients to attend regular outpatient-based rehab sessions.
To help solve this problem, the Gawlicki Family Foundation awarded a grant for $84,000 to Saint Francis Hospital & Medical Center to fund the development and implementation of a home-based pulmonary rehabilitation program for at-risk patients with COPD.
With the grant, Saint Francis and program director Richard L. ZuWallack, M.D., will implement a program for pulmonary rehabilitation in the home for discharged COPD patients. The home-based rehabilitation intervention will be a mechanism for enhancing patient-caregiver communication, providing necessary education, teaching self-management strategies, and promoting exercise and physical activity. In addition, an important goal will be to get the patient to transition from home-based to center-based pulmonary rehabilitation for continued care.
“This grant will allow us to improve the health of our at-risk patients,” said Daniel A. Gerardi, MD, FCCP, section chief pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. “Our goal is to help them on the path toward better health from the comfort and ease of their own homes. This home-program is just one component of a modified, comprehensive COPD management program focusing on the integrated care of our patients.”
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center has been an anchor health care institution in north central Connecticut since 1897. In 2015, Saint Francis became part of Trinity Health of New England, an integrated health care delivery system that is a member of Trinity Health, one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center is licensed for 617 beds, and is a major teaching hospital and the largest Catholic hospital in New England.
To learn more about Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center and Trinity Health of New England, visit www.stfranciscare.org/hartford.