By Adam Raider
For Martin Hartmann, flexibility isn’t just a perk of regaining range of motion in his lower extremities – it’s a quality he looks for in his healthcare providers.
Martin has COPD, a chronic condition that requires oxygen therapy. Because of his difficulty breathing, Martin’s two-story home in Brookfield is equipped with a stair lift. After developing an unrelated infection in his legs, his mobility became further limited and his situation deteriorated to the point where he feared doctors would be forced to amputate. Thankfully, this worst-case scenario was averted through surgery and aggressive antibiotic treatment.
In May, after several hospital stays and a period of rehabilitation, Martin was discharged into the care of the Brookfield branch of Masonicare Home Health. He’s been very pleased with Masonicare’s willingness to meet his scheduling needs, a courtesy he says he didn’t always receive from a different home health agency he’d used in the past.
“I told them that I needed to reserve Mondays and Wednesdays for my doctor visits,” Martin recalled, “but a lot of times there was a problem with getting them to come out when it was convenient for me. Working with the patient is important. But Masonicare’s been great. I have no complaints.”
The Brookfield branch of Masonicare Home Health is managed by Regional Director Mary Cosgrove and Aggie Ferraro, Supervisor of Clinical Services.
Martin’s interdisciplinary team of “road warriors” – clinicians who might travel as much as 100 miles a day to see all their clients – includes nurses Stefanie Ehnot, Karen MacKnight and Marjorie Proietti as well as occupational therapist Sabeena Ali and physical therapist Virginia McChesney.
“Sabeena and Virginia work with me a lot on balance and building strength in my legs,” Martin said. “When they first started working with me, I couldn’t get up the last three steps from the landing where my chair lift stops. It was terribly frustrating. I never felt so incomplete. Now I can do it all. I can sit in a chair and stand up without having to hold on to anything. That’s a big deal, because there was a time when I couldn’t do anything without help. They’ve taught me the techniques but they’ve also given me confidence. That’s equally important. I’d never heard of Masonicare before, but I’d have no qualms about recommending them to anybody.”
A native of Queens, NY, Martin worked as an international quality control manager with PepsiCo before operating several small businesses including a Pepperidge Farm franchise, a grocery store, and a transportation service. Having traveled extensively and interacted with people at all levels of business, he’s developed a keen eye for recognizing when others show proficiency and dedication in their work. He believes he’s seen those qualities in the employees of Masonicare.
“If they notice that you’re doing something incorrectly,” he said, “they have a way of telling you not that you made a mistake but, ‘Why don’t you try doing it this way?’ They’re very good at that. I told Sabeena the other day that I felt like we’ve known each other for 10, 20 years. She has a gift. It’s amazing to see people like that, and I think they deserve to be told. Virginia’s the same way. I must’ve mentioned to her that I used to love to dance and that when I was in high school, I took classes at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. So the second or third time she came to my home, she had me doing the Tango.”
A Zumba Gold fitness instructor in her spare time, Virginia laughs as she recalls that early session with Martin.
“We were doing a bit of a seated, Tango-like exercise,” she said, “and I’m pretty sure we were listening to a piece called Hernando’s Hideaway. If people enjoy music, then I like to use it because then the therapy won’t seem like work and there’s a much better chance that they’ll follow through.”
As much as she appreciates the positive feedback she’s received from Martin and other patients, Virginia insists that her career is rich with its own rewards.
“I feel like I have the best clients in the world,” she said, “and they mean everything to me. We have a wonderful time together. My patients restore my faith in humanity. They manage to be strong in the face of so many challenges or personal tragedies. That’s why I’ve been doing this for 32 years. It’s my therapy.”