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June 23, 2006

Oswego Man Recovers from ‘Triple A’ Emergency Surgery

OSWEGO – When Frank Moshier walks the corridors of Oswego Hospital these days, he considers himself a lucky man. The 72-year-old Oswego resident volunteers at the hospital, delivering test results and running errands. But a few months ago, Moshier was on the other side of the aisle. He spent nine days at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, when his aorta burst in February.

The “triple A,” as Frank referred to his abdominal aortic aneurysm, required extensive emergency surgery and a long convalescence. Using clamps and Dacron, his surgeon at St. Joseph’s, Dr. Robert E. Carlin, repaired the 7.5-centimeter hole in the aorta and closed the incision.

When Frank left the hospital nine days later, he had 46 staples in his abdomen and he faced a long period of recuperation at home. Frank was a previous patient of the Oswego County Health Department’s certified home health agency (CHHA), and he asked that the county again provide home care during his recuperation.

He commended the staff for being pleasant, punctual, and professional. They worked closely with his physician to take blood samples, monitor wounds and incisions, and keep track of medications. The health care givers were a support to both Frank and his wife, Betty.

Betty, a retired first grade teacher from Kingsford Elementary School, was able to be his primary caregiver while Frank was recuperating. Frank retired as a credit manager for Beneficial Finance.

Sue Kyle, a registered nurse with the county Health Department, was Frank’s case manager. She visited Frank shortly after his release from the hospital for an evaluation and assessment and developed a plan of care with Frank and his physician. Jennifer O’Gorman and other licensed practical nurses made regular visits to check on how the incision was healing, change dressings, and monitor Frank’s recovery.

“People get better faster when they’re in their own home,” said O’Gorman. “Many patients request us specifically when they’re discharged from the hospital. It certainly saves money to have a nurse come in and check a person a couple of times a week. Home health care helps prevent a return hospital visit, and is considerably less expensive than the average daily cost of hospital or nursing home care.”

Betty was understandably nervous. Frank already had a history of pneumonia and cardiac problems. His abdominal aneurysm had burst very quickly and required an emergency transfer by ambulance to St. Joseph’s. However, she said, knowing that they were under the care of the county health nurses made the discharge “an easy transition.”

She was already familiar with the home care services provided to patients through their previous experience with Frank’s quadruple bypass surgery in 2004.

“It was very reassuring to know that there would be somebody looking at Frank’s progress,” she said. “To know at night that someone was going to be there the next morning, who could evaluate the situation and would tell me if something else needed to be done, was very reassuring.”

O’Gorman has worked with the county Health Department’s certified home health agency for four years.

“In that time I have seen people in all walks of life, anywhere from temporarily out of commission to their worst,” said O’Gorman. “It is very rewarding to care for and teach clients and their caregivers how to get well enough to return to their former lifestyles, and help others learn how to reach their maximum potential.”

In a recent comparison of home health care scores by Fazzi Associates, a nationally-known home care consultant, Oswego County placed in the top 10 percent of all agencies in the U.S. Robert A. Fazzi, president and CEO, said his company measures total quality program and patient satisfaction. He congratulated the health department for “a great job” with its home health comparison scores.

Oswego County’s CHHA exceeded state and national levels of care in all ten categories that were measured in the federal government’s recent Medicare survey of certified home health agencies, said Kathleen Smith, Public Health Director.

“Our team travels all over Oswego County and includes registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, home health aides, medical social workers, occupational, physical, and nutritional therapists. We can provide a variety of services for the patient following surgery or hospitalization. Fortunately,” she added, “most in-home care is short-term, and ends when the patient is recovered enough to independently take care of himself.”

Frank feels he is in a good position to judge.

“It was just wonderful that they were there when I needed them,” he said. “The nurses know their jobs and they do their jobs. They were very courteous and treat people the way you would want to be treated.”

From a nurse’s perspective, O’Gorman said, the job offers plenty of opportunity to practice her skills and the satisfaction of making a positive difference not only to patients, but their families as well. “I am able to use a variety of nursing skills on a daily basis, we have long and short-term clients,” she said. “I am always meeting new people with new needs, as well as following up with those who have become old friends.”

For more information on post-hospitalization and home health care services through the Oswego County Health Department’s certified home health agency, call 349-3548 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3548.

Jen O'Gorman, Betty and Frank Moshier

HOME CARE TEAM – Keeping a close watch on Frank Moshier, a former patient of the Oswego County Health Department’s certified home health agency, are LPN Jennifer O’Gorman (left) and his wife, Betty. Frank received home health care services in the spring while he recovered from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and two years ago when he had quadruple bypass surgery.

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