This year I had the opportunity to help a couple move back to Central Pennsylvania. They had moved out of state when they were both in better health. Unfortunately, things changed drastically for the couple when George developed multiple medical conditions that ended up putting George in a wheelchair without the full use of his legs.
George needed significant help with getting in and out of his bed, and with daily activities including dressing, bathing, and toileting. He was fortunate to have long-term care insurance to pay for some in-home care, but the majority of his care fell on the shoulders of his partner, Carol.
Carol and George decided to move to Harrisburg to be closer to Carol’s daughter and granddaughter. They decided to build a home that would be immediately handicap accessible and would suit both their current and future medical needs. Carol was looking forward to being close to her family again, but she knew that building a home and moving would present many logistical difficulties for managing George’s care.
She reached out to Severino Health Advisors to see how to coordinate all of George’s care related needs. Carol knew she would be unable to be a full-time caregiver for George, arrange their move, and navigate the treatment plan George was given. She reached out to a local agency but they couldn’t handle the complexity of the case, but then she was referred to me, and I was ready for the job!
As his health advocate, I put a plan in place to make their transition as smooth as possible. I worked with the family to address many difficult challenges to include:
Finding new physicians: George had multiple medical problems that needed immediate attention once he moved to the area. George needed a new primary care provider, a neurologist, a wound specialist, a dermatologist, and a pain specialist. By working closely with Carol, we put all of these providers in place and set appointments to see each specialist before they even arrived in Harrisburg. It was important that the transition in care was seamless, and I was able to offer that to them.
Organizing medical records: It was easy for me to gather George’s medical records by having access to his online medical portal. I organized his medical records into an easy to use a notebook that he could take to his new medical providers. The book contained his medical diagnosis’, his current medications, pertinent laboratory and x-ray reports, and consultation notes from all of his previous specialists. Having his records organized in this way made it possible for George to quickly share his complicated medical history with all of his new physicians.
Hiring in-home caregivers: Carol was providing the majority of George’s care; however, they were fortunate to be able to hire some daily in-home caregivers. I offered the family a variety of caregiver referrals and I worked with Carol to hire a qualified company that could help with all of George’s specific needs.
Obtaining temporary medical equipment: George had his own wheelchair, hospital bed with a specialty mattress, and a lift to use to get in and out of bed. Unfortunately, his equipment needed to go into the moving truck and was not going to be available until a few days after his arrival. I obtained temporary equipment from a local supplier until the moving truck arrived.
Advocating during hospitalization: Carol called me when George’s condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. I met Carol and George’s daughter in the intensive care unit and we requested to speak with his physician to better understand George’s prognosis. George was unresponsive and was no longer able to communicate his wishes for care.
Supporting the family: I spent time with Carol and George’s daughter to discuss his current condition and talk about what type of care George would want and how we could make that happen. The family wanted George to have hospice care, but they didn’t feel comfortable taking him home. I listened to the families’ wishes and made a referral to a local hospice house where George was transferred the following day. After George’s transfer to hospice, I continued to provide emotional support to the family.
Helping after George’s passing: After George’s passing, I continued to work with Carol. One big need was to help her find someone who would sell George’s electric wheelchair, handicapped van, hospital bed, and Hoyer lift. In record time, she was fortunate to be able to sell his van and equipment to a local family.
I have continued to work with Carol to assist her in finding new health insurance, a new accountant, and legal advice.
As you can see, I wear a lot of hats to help my clients with the many challenges they face as they are caring for a family member. At Severino Health Advisors, we take great pride in relieving some of the struggles our families face and offering them peace of mind. To find out more about our services, visit us on Facebook and online.