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How One Nurse Rediscovered Her Passion Within Hospital at Home

After more than a year of treating COVID-19 patients in the emergency department and in the COVID field hospital, Andrea Knox, R.N., was, as she describes, “dead inside.” She had seen more patients perish in 18 months than she had in her 18 years as a nurse. 

“I didn’t have feelings”

Andrea Knox, R.N

The constant death, the isolation, and the near-daily changing protocols had understandably taken a significant toll on Knox’s mental health. “I reached the point where I really struggled to care,” she recounts. “I would come home and my family and kids would tell me that I didn’t have feelings. It was a defense mechanism, but I was completely numb.” 

When she was forced to take a break due to surgery, Knox had time to think about what she wanted from her career. She loved nursing and the rush of emergent care, but she knew she couldn’t continue in the same vein. 

Hospital at Home Model Offers a Way Forward

Noticing her condition and not wanting to lose another good nurse, leaders at UMass Memorial Health invited Knox to join the recently formed Hospital at Home team. Knox was nervous about having to rely on virtual health tools, but she was intrigued about participating in a new model of care delivery.  

Seeing patients in the context of their homes and families helped Knox rediscover her compassion and sense of connection to her patients. “I had gotten to the point where I didn’t care what happened to patients in the ED. But after seeing patients in their homes and with their families, I started understanding why they are the way they are.” 

Initially, Knox was concerned that she might be bored away from the ED. But caring for acutely ill patients in their homes requires enough attention and responsiveness to keep her challenged. Knox says, “I still get to use those skills of puzzle-solving and critical thinking because confident clinical decision-making is really important in this context.”  

Care-at-Home Champion

Knox now “delivers the kind of care that she always trained for but never actually delivered bedside in the brick and mortar.” In-home time visits allow for better patient education and personal care that is more inclusive of the patient’s family. And she’s thriving. Before long, Knox was promoted from field nurse to Lead Care Coordinator and is championing initiatives to extend care at home delivery models to more patient cohorts through the Current Health platform.