Thanksgiving this year fell on November 22 — the earliest it can be. Nevertheless, I don’t think most of us had to wait for Thanksgiving to remember all we have to be thankful for. The heartbreak and devastation that “Superstorm” Sandy brought to the East coast was enough to remind everyone of what really matters. Here in Connecticut, we were affected with coastline damage and more than 100,000 homes without power.
Our employees again showed what dedication they have to the patients and residents who depend on them. In Wallingford – where our Health Center alone has over 400 beds – our employees came through with flying colors, coming into work early and prepared to stay as long as necessary. In Newtown, for the third time in 15 months, we welcomed townspeople without power to come in and take hot showers. A local resident was especially grateful: her wheelchair-bound son was able to use our special needs shower room – which he thought was “big fun… a complete room that was a shower.”
I’d like to shine a special spotlight on the extraordinary work of the Hospice team based in our Norwalk home health office. I’m sure you can imagine some of the challenges in making sure that home hospice patients had shelter, supplies and the support they needed should their homes lose power, which most did. As the storm headed toward Connecticut, the team began making emergency preparations to insure that patients were safe and would get the help they needed during and after the storm.
A 90-year old Darien woman who was on 24-hour care was told to evacuate. With no family to assist her, hospice RN Dot Baliban spent the Sunday before the storm making arrangements, contacting an ambulance service in the area to drive our patient toWallingford, where she was made comfortable in a private room in the Acute Care Unit at Masonicare Health Center.
An elderly patient and his wife live in a high-risk flood zone in Rowayton. They were adamant about remaining in their home. Before the storm reached its peak, Julie Lopiano, hospice RN, made a special trip to bring the gentleman a medication he needed because his pharmacy couldn’t get there. Her colleague, Dot, made sure the couple’s home was stocked with flashlights, batteries, canned soup and other necessities to help them during the expected power outage. Dot and Julie took turns visiting them daily to insure they were safe.
Hospice RN Elizabeth Tracey’s patient was on a street shut down by the National Guard. Libby walked six blocks to check in with her to be sure she was OK.
Jennifer Carlan, Hospice Supervisor of Clinical Services, credits cell phones and emergency contact planning for a constant stream of updates that poured in from staff. They provided information on safe places to go, easiest routes to use to get to patients’ homes, places where showers were available, and much more.
Social worker Brian Jin sought out “Good Samaritan” beds for patients who couldn’t afford room and board at area skilled nursing facilities.
Every hospice patient was contacted by an on-call nurse on Sunday before the storm arrived, and all of their patients were appropriately triaged and well cared for.
Supervisor Jennifer says, “I’ve never seen such a dedicated group of individuals. I am so fortunate and proud to be working with all of them.” Regional Vice President Susan Adams points out that these examples of extraordinary employees are really just the tip of the iceberg. “With the number of offices and employees we have covering the state, there are many, many more stories of Masonicare heroes who go that extra mile to provide outstanding care and compassion for those who need it most.”
As we head into the rest of the holiday season, I hope that you and those you hold dear will find similar evidence of hope and faith around you. From all us at Masonicare, our very best wishes for health and happiness.