Top-notch hospitals are a vital component of the health care system. Even so, most people are anxious to avoid inpatient care when possible and seek to bring hospital stays that become necessary to a close as soon as feasible.
Many health problems can be handled at home or in a less-acute care setting than a hospital if people have available to them specialized medical equipment and products and understand how to use them correctly. Supplying these items and providing critical education and assistance is at the heart of the mission of a new service available at Trinity Regional Medical Center.
Trinity Medical Equipment Services opened at TRMC April 30. It is in a 1,200-square-foot suite across from the hospital's cafeteria near the gift shop. The nonprofit enterprise is part of Iowa Health Home Care, which is a subsidiary of Iowa Health System. TRMC is a senior affiliate of Iowa Health.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Kerri Bever, supervisor at the Trinity Home Care Iowa Home Health Care store at Trinity Regional Medical Center, at left, looks over some the breathing equipment available to help patients, with respiratory therapist Ann Vanderheiden.
"We have home care and durable medical equipment statewide with locations in Des Moines, Waterloo, Sioux City and Fort Dodge," said Kerri Bever, who manages the Fort Dodge outlet.
She said her location services not only local clients, but also those who live within about a 60-mile radius of Fort Dodge.
The array of items available is extensive.
"Trinity Medical Equipment Services offers ... CPAP and BiPAP equipment ... for patients with sleep apnea," Bever said. "We have home oxygen. We also have prosthetics and orthotics, compression ware, aids to daily living - special adaptive equipment. We also have bath safety products. We have other respiratory equipment."
The list also includes walkers, canes, crutches, rehabilitation aids, exercisers of various sorts, braces, breast pumps, lactation supplies, phototherapy equipment, wheel chairs, commodes, and much, much more.
And if something should happen not to be in stock locally, it is likely to be available through one of the other sites.
"We all share inventory," Bever said. "So, if there is something somebody needs, I can call up another location and get it shipped here."
The clientele is as diverse as the inventory.
"We work with everyone from newborns - setting them up on phototherapy, to new moms - setting them up on lactation equipment, to the very elderly who are bed-ridden, who we want to get in a bed with the proper mattress," Bever said. "So, we have the full gamut."
Bever stressed that her team is part of a much broader enterprise.
"We already have and have had here for years and years, Trinity Home Care, which is our nursing and clinician staff who go out to the field and service those patients," she said. "This is just the end piece to that puzzle. They are going out and making sure those patients are staying in their homes and not having to go to facilities. I'm just there to provide the equipment to help them to facilitate that. ... We just want to keep in their homes."
Providing patient education is a key part of the equation.
"That's the most important thing," Bever said. "Teaching them up-front, but reteaching them as needed. ... It's really important that we remain in constant contact with our patients just to make sure that they understand and are getting the full benefit of whatever therapy they are getting."
She said her staff is always alert to patient needs and responds accordingly.
"We do have patients who are not having good days, but we partner with our clinicians and our spiritual staff and make certain we holistically look at the patient," she said. "You know when you see a patient if they are going to need some additional help."
And should something go wrong with critical equipment, Bever said her team is ready to assist quickly.
"We offer 24-hour care and service," she said. "So, for example if a patient is in their home and something should happen to a concentrator, they could give us a call and we would come out and look at it. We have a two-hour window to get out to their home. ... Our goal is to provide service."
Meet the manager
Bever was born at TRMC, but grew up in Des Moines where she graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1987. Then it was on to Drake University from which she received a bachelor's degree in administration in 1990. Bever joined Iowa Health Home Care in Des Moines in 2004. She was the purchasing manager statewide prior to taking the helm at Trinity Medical Equipment Services.
Bever is enthusiastic about her new role.
"I really enjoy working with patients, making sure they are happy," she said. Our goal is to provide the equipment necessary for the patient in the home so they can stay. We pride ourselves on carrying quality products. I wouldn't put anything in the store that I wouldn't give my grandmother. That's important. Very important. ... I love everything that Iowa Health Home Care provides and does for our patients."
Trinity Medical Equipment Services has a staff of five. In addition to Bever, the team includes a customer service representative, two respiratory therapists and an equipment technician. While emergency service is available 24-7, the normal business hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.