N.H. Home Provides Backup Ventilator Care

On a Monday morning a little more than a year ago, Cedarcrest Center had a watershed moment.

A young girl whose breathing is supported by a ventilator arrived to stay for a few days. Her admission and discharge home after a short-term stay might have been considered routine, except that she was “ventilator-dependent.”

It was the first time Cedarcrest Center, New Hampshire’s only pediatric intermediate care facility, was able to respond to the growing need for post-acute care options for children who are ventilator-dependent. This historic occasion was the culmination of a strong collaboration among members of the New Hampshire healthcare and disabilities communities.

Extremely premature births often result in high-risk neurological or neuro-muscular conditions, hypoxic brain damage or chronic lung disease. Children who survive do not typically require continued hospitalization once they become medically stable.  However, the transition from hospital to home can be affected by homelessness, family crises, or insufficient community support services so back-up options are necessary.

Back-up care requires specially-trained caregivers and advance planning to arrange related support services.  Since many families in New Hampshire live at considerable distance from a major medical center, the unavailability of back-up options constituted a significant medical risk. Until that Monday, the only options had been hospitalization in New Hampshire or admission to an out of state facility. 

Cedarcrest Center’s medical director, nursing staff and administrators worked nearly two years with partners across the state to develop new protocols, identify and purchase appropriate back-up equipment, ensure proper staff training, and secure necessary approvals. 

More than a year since the first admission, the Center has provided more than 330 days of intensive nursing care to three other children who required ventilator-support – one short-term, one for a three-month hospital-to-home transition stay, and one longer term. 

For more information visit: www.cedarcrest4kids.org.