Facility bridges the gap between hospital and home
By Megy Karydes
Mary*, 9 months old, with skeletal dysplasia and chronic respiratory failure, was getting ready to be discharged from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, yet her family wasn’t quite prepared with the services and caregiver training they would need to take their daughter home.
That’s where Almost Home Kids stepped in. The Naperville-based nonprofit provides transitional care for children who are ready to be discharged from the hospital but for whom preparations at home still need to be made. Almost Home Kids serves as a lifeline for families like Mary’s who need help bridging the gap between hospital and home.
Mary stayed in one of Almost Home Kids’ home-like care facilities while her parents were given help securing much-needed community support services for Mary.
“She stayed with us while her parents received assistance connecting to social services that helped with housing, in-home nursing care and the necessary training and care-planning assistance to successfully transition her home,” says Deborah A Grisko, president and executive director of Almost Home Kids.
Mary later returned to Almost Home Kids for respite care while her parents took a much-needed break and on another occasion when her in-home nursing care was lost. “Once we helped the family connect with a new nursing agency and restaff her care, Mary returned home and has been doing great ever since,” Grisko says.
The organization began in 1999 in Naperville when two mothers, who had children with medical complexities, noticed that many children ended up back at the hospital due to lack of home nursing. In 2012, the organization opened its second site, leasing the sixth floor of the Ronald McDonald House, just a few blocks from Lurie Children’s Hospital. The organization receives referrals from more than 30 medical centers in Illinois, other states and also internationally.
“The program works,” Grisko says. “Currently, fewer than 2 percent of the children who go through Almost Home Kids are readmitted to the hospital for a failed home-health plan within 30 days of being discharged.”
While the emotional toll of having a loved one in a hospital is great, the financial toll can be just as burdensome. The organization saves the state approximately $20 million in Medicaid expenses every year. “For example, if the child isn’t with us, they would be in the PICU/NICU of a hospital, which typically costs $3,000 to $5,000 per day in comparison to our daily rate of $950 per day,” Grisko says.
Almost Home Kids envisions expanding nationally and opening new facilities across the country to service the needs of children with complex medical conditions and their families.
Almost Home Kids, 7S721 Route 53, Naperville, IL 60540, 630-271-9155;
211 E. Grand Ave, 6th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611, 312-229-0170; almosthomekids.org