Better ideas. Better outcomes.

Impact Statement 2018

CAROL Keeping People Home Sweet Home

The family called him Bud. Bud was 98 years old, and he lived at home until his passing. For most elderly people, staying independent and living in their own homes is a most fervent wish.

“Bud was my grandfather-in-law,” says Mike Czechowskyj, MSN, RN, CNML, CHP, clinical innovation specialist, Spectrum Health Innovations (SHI). “Family cared for him, and we called in help for hygiene and errands such as grocery shopping, but sometimes Bud needed the care of a nurse. His wish to live his life out at home inspired me to come up with a solution.”

Watching the family’s struggles and listening to caregivers’ concerns, Czechowskyj realized he was witness to a problem millions of families face: keeping loved ones home as long as possible and doing so safely.

Czechowskyj approached a colleague at SHI, Anthony Lazzaro, MHI, product development specialist, to discuss an idea he had for improving home care: an on-demand, easy-to-use web platform for health care. Czechowskyj and Lazzaro became business partners, working together to develop a program they would call Carol.

Carol, Czechowskyj says, was a name chosen both because it incorporates, in part, the phrase “care for all” but is also a common name associated with a friendly presence.

“Carol gives people the ability to request on-demand service for patients living at home and seeking basic nursing care from licensed and insured registered nurses,” Lazzaro says. “The patient, a family member, or a caregiver, can call or log in to Carol’s app or website and request a registered nurse visit, pick the service needed, and a registered nurse will arrive at your door.”

Patients and caregivers will be able to receive updates throughout the entire process of care. The service costs $35 for a half hour and is pro-rated after the first hour. If the patient requires a physician’s care, Carol will make the connection through the recommendation of a primary care physician to a service such as MedNow.

Tara Ter Vree, BSN, RN, is a float nurse with Spectrum Health. She signed up with Carol when the pilot began in January 2018. “I heard about Carol when Mike did a presentation at a staff meeting. I signed up—it was a clear-cut, simple application, and I was soon on my way, answering patient requests for care. Most of my patients have been 70 years of age or older, and the person requesting care is a son or daughter who may not always be able to visit their parent for everyday medical needs.”

Ter Vree says that most of the calls are for basic hygiene needs, skin breakdowns, colostomy changes, or simply to clarify a change in prescribed medicines. “Most of these needs I can take care of in 45 minutes or less. Anything beyond my scope as a nurse, and I can connect the patient with their primary care physician.”

Ter Vree says she enjoys the more personal relationship she develops with repeat patients that goes beyond the hospital setting and the flexibility in scheduling.

Czechowskyj says, “The initial pilot is in Grand Rapids and the Holland area, but then we will expand our territory—and eventually we hope to go nationwide.”

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fast facts
  • Carol can be used to request in-home service by registered nurses for basic health care needs. The service will help patients living at home avoid office visits while assuring caregivers and family members of timely, medically appropriate care.
  • Retired RNs or employed RNs can earn extra income according to their schedules, working for Carol as independent contractors.
  • Services offered by Carol include respite care, dressing changes, help with medications, a check of vital signs, hospital discharge instruction review, and other low-acuity medical services that can be performed by a registered nurse.

  • “Seeing the effects that Carol has had on the people we help has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had; it’s what fuels our team day-to-day.”

    Anthony Lazzaro, MHI, product development specialist and co-founder of Carol, Spectrum Health Innovations
  • “Family members know their loved ones are receiving excellent care, and the patients are able to live independently in their own homes, where they want to be.”

    Tara Ter Vree, BSN, RN, float nurse, Spectrum Health
  • “Carol is filling a gap in health care and providing peace of mind to both patients and their families knowing a registered nurse is looking out for their family.”

    Mike Czechowskyj, MSN, RN, CNML, CHP, clinical innovation specialist and co-founder of Carol, Spectrum Health Innovations