DSCC and State Health Department Partner to Improve In-Home Nursing Options for Families

June 16th, 2022

A stethoscope lying on a white cloth

A new licensure process for nursing agencies will help provide more options for children and adults in need of in-home nursing care

The nationwide nursing shortage has affected many Illinois families in need of in-home shift nursing care for their children with complex medical needs.

There is a constant demand for more in-home nursing care options in all parts of the state, both rural and urban.

The University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) has partnered with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to help meet this need and give families more nursing care options.

DSCC worked with IDPH to change how our enrolled nursing agencies are licensed to serve Illinois counties. Nursing agencies can now be licensed to serve all of Illinois instead of only individual counties.

This change should make it easier for nursing agencies to serve more parts of the state.

Before this change, nursing agencies could only operate within their approved service county area. Nursing agencies had to request approval for each county they wanted to serve.

This process made it difficult for nursing agencies to expand coverage to areas in need. Our participants who receive in-home shift nursing through the Home Care Program could only receive services from nursing agencies licensed for their specific county.

Now all nursing agencies who are licensed and enrolled with DSCC in good standing may serve all Home Care participants in any part of the state.

This broader statewide approach to nursing agency licenses will offer more available nursing options to our participant families.

Please note that each nursing agency must decide if it wants to expand its service area to other parts of the state. This decision is based on nursing staff availability.

We are thankful for IDPH’s partnership to help meet this important need for our participants and their families!

Important Clarification on In-Home Supervisory Visits for Home Care Families

June 30th, 2021

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UPDATED: In-home nurse agency supervisory visits are still optional for most Home Care Program families

We have an important clarification to share about the status of home nursing agency supervisory visits.

A previous version of this post stated that home nurse agency supervisory visits must now resume in-person without exceptions for all Home Care Program participants. That information is no longer accurate.

We have received clarification from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The department’s June 24 notice about required in-person supervisory visits only applies to home health aides (CNAs) providing care in the home. It does not apply to all nurses working in the home.

At this time, in-person supervisory visits are only required when:

  1. A CNA is providing care in the home.
  2. The parent/guardian is a licensed nurse and providing care as a paid caregiver in the home.

If your home nursing care does not fall in these categories, in-person supervisory visits are not required and remain optional. (Please note that DSCC still encourages nursing agencies to perform in-home supervisory visits when possible to ensure the health and safety of our participants.)

We apologize for the confusion!

The emergency amendments that suspended in-person supervisory visits during the pandemic are still in place.

If you have questions or additional concerns about the status of in-home supervisory visits, please contact your DSCC Care Coordinator.

Our DSCC Team will continue to prioritize the health of your child and family and work with our state partners to provide guidance and support.

Once again, we regret any confusion and are happy to help answer any questions and address your concerns.

Thank you for your understanding.

COVID-19 Guidance for Medically Fragile Children

March 25th, 2020

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The Illinois Department of Public Health gives recommended guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in medically fragile children.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has provided guidance for how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in medically fragile children.

The guidance includes:

  • Planning actions for the home healthcare agency during a disease pandemic
  • Preventative actions for the introduction of respiratory germs into your home
  • Preventative actions for the introduction of respiratory germs within your home
  • Preventative actions for vulnerable populations
  • Contingency planning

The guidance is available in our COVID-19 resource list and at this direct link to the guidance document.

Tips to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses

June 29th, 2018

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Learn the signs of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them.

A predicted heat wave for most of the state could bring a dangerous mix of high temperatures and high humidity.

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D. is reminding people about the importance of staying cool in order to avoid heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“Hot weather can cause heat-related illness which ranges in severity from relatively mild heat cramps to life-threatening heat stroke. It’s important for people to recognize the signs of heat-related illness and take action to prevent becoming sick,” said Director Shah. “Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. However, if temperatures and humidity are extremely high, sweating is not effective in maintaining the body’s normal temperature. If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a heat-related illness, which can become serious or even deadly.”

IDPH has put together an easy-to-read chart of heat-related illnesses, what to look for, and what to do.  You can access it at IDPH Heat Safety Tips.

Heat-related death or illnesses are preventable if you follow a few simple steps.

  • Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day.  If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a shopping mall or a library to stay cool.  Cooling stations and senior centers are also available in many large cities for people of all ages.  To find cooling centers in state facilities, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/KeepCool/SitePages/CoolingCenters.aspx.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Drink water often.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or in a building without air-conditioning.

Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness.  Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.

Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle.  The air temperature inside a car rises rapidly during hot weather and can lead to brain damage or death.

Visit the IDPH website for more heat-related information.


Tips to Avoid Tick- and Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

June 8th, 2018

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Learn what you and your family can do to avoid insect bites this summer.

Summer is here and so are the outdoor pests. But insect bites are much more than an itchy inconvenience. They can spread disease and cause serious health problems.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding people about simple precautions they can take to avoid bites.

“Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme disease, spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis, while mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “These diseases can cause anywhere from mild to severe illness, and even death in some cases. To protect yourself from both, use insect repellent that contains DEET and follow some simple precautions.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, disease cases from mosquito, tick and flea bites have tripled in the U.S. during the 13 years from 2004 through 2016. Reported cases from mosquito and tick bites in Illinois have increased by more than half (58 percent) from 2005 to 2016.

Many tick-borne diseases have similar symptoms. The most common symptoms can include fever, chills, aches and pains, and rash.  Within two weeks following a tick bite, if you experience a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye or a rash anywhere on your body, or an unexplained illness accompanied by fever, contact your doctor. Early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. Tell your healthcare provider the geographic area in which you were bitten or traveled to help identify the disease based on ticks in that region.

A fairly new virus called Bourbon virus has been associated with tick bites and has been found in a limited number of cases in the Midwest and southern U.S. People diagnosed with Bourbon virus disease have symptoms including fever, fatigue, rash, headache, other body aches, nausea and vomiting. They also had low blood counts for cells that fight infection and help prevent bleeding.  Some people who were infected later died.

Ticks are commonly found on the tips of grasses and shrubs. Ticks crawl — they cannot fly or jump. The tick will wait in the grass or shrub for a person or animal to walk by and then quickly climb aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear or other areas where the skin is thinner.

Simple tips to avoid ticks bites include:

  • Wear light-colored, protective clothing—long-sleeved shirts, pants, boots or sturdy shoes, and a head covering.  Treat clothing with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.
  • Apply insect repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
  • Walk in the center of trails so grass, shrubs, and weeds do not brush against you.
  • Check yourself, children, other family members, and pets for ticks every two to three hours.
  • Remove any tick promptly by grasping it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pulling it straight out.  Wash your hands and the tick bite site with soap and water.

The most common mosquito-borne illness in Illinois is West Nile virus. West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Culex pipiens, or “house” mosquito. Mild cases of West Nile virus infections may cause a slight fever or headache. More severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever with head and body aches, disorientation, tremors, convulsions and, in the most severe cases, paralysis or death. Symptoms usually occur from three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.  However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile Virus.

There are some simple precautions you can take to Fight the Bite.  Precautions include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel and report.

  • REDUCE – make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.  Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings.  Try to keep doors and windows shut. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
  • REPEL – when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
  • REPORT – report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week, such as roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.

Additional information about ticks and mosquitoes can be found on the IDPH website.