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December 11, 2012

County Health Department's Nursing Team Helps Pulaski Couple Resume a Normal Life

THRIVING WITH HOME HEALTH CARE - Jeanne and Ted Chesnut are grateful for the Oswego County Health Department's premier home health care agency. The education, therapy and support they received at home after Ted's heart failure prepared them to resume normal activities and continue their life together.

By Kelly Jordal

PULASKI - The Oswego County Health Department provides a premiere home health care agency to residents throughout the county. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include skilled nursing, home health aides, and medical social work along with nutritional, physical, occupational, respiratory and speech therapies.

"The goal of our public health nursing services is to provide residents with skilled care and supportive health services in a safe, secure, home-based environment," said Kathryn Caltabiano, RN, MS, director of patient services at the Oswego County Health Department.

Jeanne Chesnut, a retired employee of the Oswego County Office for the Aging, is grateful for her personal experience with the agency. Ted, her husband of nearly 30 years and a retired employee of the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown school district, suffered heart failure during treatment for a separate medical condition.

Part of Ted's recovery included learning to live with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical pump that supports heart functions in people who have weakened hearts. The device takes blood from the lower chamber of the heart and helps pump it back to the rest of the body and other vital organs.

After surgery and a month of hospital care, the couple met with a discharge planner at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester who gave them a required referral and a directory of home care agencies. From this list, Jeanne chose the Oswego County Health Department and was reassured of its excellent program.

"Of course, I knew the exceptional reputation of our county health department and was proud to be a part of its team for 25 years," said Jeanne. "Our personal experience only confirmed this. I don't know how I would have come to the point of being a caregiver in such a technical capacity without their assistance. I received three lessons on how to provide Ted's driveline dressing changes at the hospital, but it's different once you get home.

"The lead nurse, Bill Hollis (RN), reviewed all of the materials sent by the hospital and arrived on the first day as prepared as he could possibly be to manage our case. He was professional, courteous, and thorough in his tasks and his constant steadiness and encouragement provided me with the support I needed in those first few weeks as I became a caregiver."

While Ted came home in a wheelchair, he was soon able to add physical therapy to his regimen. Eventually, he went from using a walker to using a cane, and finally to resuming normal activities. The couple now enjoys daily walks with their dog Ralphie. Jeanne and Ted were in the program for nearly two months. When they were discharged, Ted's health was stable and Jeanne had the skills she needed to be his caregiver.

Jeanne said, "It is difficult to have a team of unfamiliar people come into your home at such a vulnerable time. However, each and every person treated us and our home with professionalism, respect, kindness and encouragement. We cannot say enough about the excellent care and education we received from the Oswego County home health care team. We are grateful to all of the nurses and therapists that worked on our case. They made sure we were ready to get on with the rest of our lives together."

The Oswego County Health Department also provides a long-term home health care program in partnership with the Oswego County Department of Social Services. This plan is designed to offer an alternative to nursing home placement for county residents. As a home care program for the chronically ill, it is the only plan of its kind in the county.

"We encourage residents to choose the Oswego County Health Department if they or their loved ones need healthcare services," said Jiancheng Huang, public health director for the Oswego County Health Department. "Our healthcare professionals provide comprehensive care that promotes healing and independence at home by working with patients, families and physicians. These services allow them to receive long- or short-term healthcare in the comfort and security of their own homes."

For more information about home health care or long-term home health care, call the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3548 or 1-800-596-3200 x3548.

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