Transforming Transitional Care

by Lauren Hoefert
OSF HealthCare

Almost Home Kids will help serve the needs of children with medical complexities and their families.

When Rob and Lisa Hackett of Peoria welcomed their twin boys, Ben and Jake, they were expecting two healthy babies. But when Ben was delivered, he was having a difficult time breathing. One of the happiest days of their lives quickly turned into the scariest.

As doctors performed tests, they discovered Ben had a condition called tracheoesophageal fistula, which means his esophagus wasn’t fully attached to his stomach. He spent 82 days in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) at Children’s Hospital of Illinois and underwent two surgeries to help correct his condition.

“It was a difficult time for our family,” Lisa recalls. “We were first-time parents, so bringing Ben home from the NCCU added to that anxiousness.”

Training Makes a Difference
When Ben was just six months old, the Hacketts were sent to a hospital in Chicago; he needed a breathing tube to help open his narrow airways. During Ben’s recovery, the hospital staff showed the couple how to properly care for his breathing tube.

However, shortly after arriving home, Ben turned blue and was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Illinois. His breathing tube was plugged due to reflux from breathing secretions. He was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for five weeks.

The Hacketts found themselves wishing they’d had more opportunity and time to learn about Ben’s care before they brought him home. And they are not the first parents with that wish.

Transitioning from Hospital to Home
The Hacketts were excited to learn Almost Home Kids is planned for the Peoria region. Almost Home Kids provides support, training and resources for parents and caregivers before they take their child with complex medical conditions home. By giving caregivers the confidence to provide the proper care their child needs in a home-like setting, Almost Home Kids prepares them to succeed in their own home.

“If we would have been able to get the training we needed from Almost Home Kids after Ben had his breathing tube put in, I think we would have been better prepared to bring him home,” Lisa notes.

For many families in the Peoria area, the addition of Almost Home Kids will completely change the transition from hospital to home. “We had to stay in the PICU even longer than what was required for his recovery because the hospital couldn’t release us without nursing care,” Rob adds. “Almost Home Kids could have done that for us instead of being in the hospital.”

Today, Ben is thriving and loves pre-school. He no longer requires a breathing tube and receives ongoing care from Dr. Jeffrey Benson, pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital of Illinois. The Hacketts say they couldn’t be happier that so many families will benefit from this addition to the Peoria area. iBi

Learn more about Almost Home Kids—or make a gift—at