For Regional One Health’s Subacute/Skilled Nursing team, the goal is to help every patient return home safely so they can continue to heal and get stronger.
When Sharon Person’s dad James was admitted to the facility after a diabetic episode, she felt overwhelmed – but quickly realized he was exactly where he needed to be.
Sharon says her dad received exceptional around-the-clock care, and social worker Carol Dennis went above and beyond to help him get back home to his loved ones.
When someone you love suffers a medical emergency, it is not only an emotional shock. It also thrusts you into the challenging role of navigating the care your loved one needs to get better.
As subacute care administrator at Regional One Health, Nicole Lowe, LBSW, LNHA, MBA, sees firsthand how hard that can be for families of patients with complex injuries and illnesses. “You’re going about your daily life, and in an instant you have a loved one who needs significant care,” she said. “It can be truly overwhelming. Your life is altered in a moment.”
When Sharon Person found herself in the middle of that whirlwind after her dad James had a diabetic episode, the support she received from social worker Carol Dennis and the Subacute Care team made all the difference.
“Miss Carol was just adamant about helping us,” Person said. “She went above and beyond. No matter what we called and asked about, she got it done. She’s amazing.”
Sharon’s journey started when she got home one day in February and found her dad unconscious. After receiving emergency treatment, he was transferred to Regional One Health for continuing medical care and rehabilitation therapy. Sharon remembers feeling frightened and overwhelmed, but quickly realizing James was exactly where he needed to be.
“They were excellent. They gave him around-the-clock care,” she said. “He came in on a trach, and they were able to wean him, so he was eating and breathing on his own.”
At the same time the team was looking after James’ medical needs, they were extending a supportive hand to Sharon and her family: “They contacted me every time something went on with him,” she said. “They always explained what was happening and how he was doing.”
Sharon first talked to Carol when James was preparing for discharge.
It was an exciting but nerve-wracking time. While she was thrilled her dad could go home, she knew he would need home health care, medical equipment, and skilled rehab to continue healing. She wanted to make sure she was doing everything right.
“It was overwhelming, but I could call Miss Carol and ask questions, and she’d be honest with me and explain everything to me,” Sharon said. “Even if I was just having a stressful day, she’d listen and give me feedback. It felt like she was part of the family.”
For Carol, helping a patient return home is something she looks forward to from the first time she meets them. “Discharge planning always starts on day one,” she said. “It’s very important, because we want every patient to have a safe discharge. When they go back into the community, we want them to have all the resources that are available to them.”
Carol helped Sharon and her sisters go through the details of follow-up appointments and home health care. She even personally delivered a wheelchair and walker to James’ hospital room.
“After she brought it, my dad called me and said, ‘This nice young lady was just in my room and brought me a wheelchair and walker,’” Sharon remembers. “I said, ‘That’s Miss Carol!’”
Lowe said supporting families is a big part of her team’s mission, and Carol covers every detail – even things other people might not think of. Along with coordinating follow-up appointments, home health care, outpatient therapy, medical equipment, education, support resources and more, Carol has brought clothing for people who didn’t have any. She has called banks and utilities to reestablish service after long hospital stays.
“Carol is absolutely one of the best social workers I’ve worked with,” Lowe said. “She truly puts herself in their shoes to make sure she’s giving them everything she can. It’s a beautiful thing to see how important it is to her – she’s very compassionate, and she meets each patient where they are and does everything she can to meet their needs.”
Carol, who has been a social worker for 12 years, sees her work as a calling. Ever since she was a young girl helping her grandmother, who was blind, with her medications, she’s embraced the chance to make life better for those around her.
“It’s rewarding to put a smile on someone’s face,” she said. “It feels good to go the extra mile for someone like Sharon. It was very pleasant to work with her, and I’m glad I was able to help her.”
For Sharon, that help was a blessing. When her dad came home after nearly a month in the hospital, the family felt confident they could help him continue his recovery. Now, “He’s doing incredible,” she said. “He’s walking really well with his walker, and he can get dressed by himself. We’re grateful to have him home.”
As she watches her dad heal, she’s also grateful for the Subacute/Skilled Nursing center. “It’s the bomb!” she laughed. “That’s what my sisters and I have been saying. The way they came in and took care of my dad was just amazing. They showed how much they love their job.”