November 14, 2023

We are Northern: Liver at Home team

The Liver at Home program facilitates earlier hospital discharge, provides specialised care between outpatient appointments and reduces readmission for largely preventable conditions.

The program was established in February 2023, after Associate Professor Mayur Garg identified that there were very few at home models of care for chronic liver diseases – a group at high risk of hospital readmission and health care utilisation. The program was created as part of the Victorian Government’s Better at Home initiative.

The development of the new program saw Dr Siddharth Sood become the health service’s inaugural Head of Hepatology, as well as Dr Catherine Yu as Northern Health’s first Hepatology Fellow.

The Liver at Home team is made up of three Clinical Nurse Consultants – Kendall Fitzpatrick, Kristen Peake and Vanessa Lowen, who all have an extensive history working within the Hepatology and Gastroenterology fields at Northern Health, as well as major tertiary hospitals across Australia. They also work closely with the relevant multidisciplinary teams.

Patient eligibility into the program is limited to current inpatients admitted with acute or chronic liver disease. These patients are then safety risk screened by the team and must fall within the Northern Health Hospital in the Home catchment area.

“These patients often have preventable and manageable conditions related to their liver disease including fluid overload, hepatic encephalopathy, ascites and poor nutrition,” Vanessa said.

“With specialised nursing care provided by the Liver at Home team, we can manage their medications, monitor their bloods and organise outpatient procedures without the need for an unnecessary emergency department presentation.”

The program has been successful in preventing patients from coming back into hospital, which has been a rewarding experience for the team.

“The gratitude we have received from patients and their families has been incredible! They are so thankful for our care and support,” Vanessa said.

“It’s so nice to be working so closely with the hepatology doctors, they have a lot of trust in our clinical skills and decision making. It’s such a collaborative environment where everyone’s opinions are valued.”

Featured imaged: Kendall Fitzpatrick, Hepatology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Vanessa Lowen, Hepatology Clinical Nurse Consultant and Kristen Peake, Hepatology Clinical Nurse Consultant.