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VNA Care's Home Health Team Tackles Extreme Shoulder Pain, Diabetes, and More

Tom McGrath woke up without any memory of being taken by ambulance the night before from his home at an assisted living community to a local hospital. 

The 82-year-old had developed pneumonia, an infection in the lungs that can be deadly if left untreated. The diagnosis required a hospital stay, but Tom couldn't wait to get back home to Barbara, his wife of 62 years. 

Tom said, "I'm here to take care of her..." "And I'm here to take care of him," Barbara added. 

Before long, Tom was able to continue his recovery at home with the expert support of VNA Care's home health team. His services included nursing care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. 

In addition to being weak from the pneumonia, Tom was experiencing extreme shoulder pain.  

"I'd wake up in the morning and thought I was going to die from the pain. I thought I was just getting old and had to live with it," said Tom. 

Jessica "Jess" Whalen, OT, felt otherwise. She started Tom on a targeted exercise program, which he followed faithfully. Tom no longer has any pain, and said his shoulder works perfectly. 

"I couldn't even raise my arm before. It's a miracle. If you have Jess in your corner, you have the best," said Tom.  

Like many older adults, Tom is living with a common chronic disease, diabetes. According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 80% of older adults are living with at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two chronic conditions. VNA Care's services include chronic disease management for a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and COPD. 

Tom's diabetes had caused ulcers on his leg, ankle, and heel that needed special care. David Heredia, LPN, has taken care of dressing changes as directed by Tom's doctor. The leg has gone from looking raw to nearly perfect under David's care. 

Tom said, "Dave will take the extra time with you. ...I look forward to his visits." 

"God forbid if something else ever happened to me, I would want them (Jess and David). They are the best," Tom said. 

Pictured, from left: Jess Whalen, OT, Tom McGrath, and David Heredia, LPN. This article first appeared in the Fall 2019 edition of Caring Matters.

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