Liz Clements’ parents, Don and Ellen Hassberger, are ages 90 and 89, respectively.
They’ve been married 67 years, which means they’ve been through a lot together—including dealing with the consequences of aging.
Don battles the long-term effects of a stroke. Ellen recently broke her arm in a fall.
With her aging parents living right next door to her own home, Clements, a Grand Rapids-based artist, does what she can to provide them the physical support they need to live independently.
But there are limits.
For example: Ellen, who is quite frail, needs help bathing. She also needs someone to monitor her vital signs.
“I have no medical experience and I have a bad back,” Clements said. “I can’t be doing this.”
Just when Clements had almost reached the end of her rope, she learned about Carol Health, a new on-demand nursing service in West Michigan.
An RN within the hour
Carol Health is a new twist on the old-fashioned house call.
The inspiration for the Spectrum Health Innovations idea came from Mike Czechowskyj, a Spectrum Health RN. Czechowskyj’s 98-year-old grandfather, Bud, needs occasional non-emergency medical help. His children live hours away and Bud can’t get out on his own.
“It’s a big problem for people who need episodic care,” Czechowskyj said. “With Carol Health, people can go online or call on the phone, request a nurse, and someone will be there within an hour.”
Carol Health RNs are available to provide a wide range of services, including medication checks, vital sign monitoring, wound dressing changes, injections and reviews of hospital instructions. They also provide personal care for elderly patients and ensuring they are safe.
If the patient’s medical needs go beyond what an RN can provide, the Carol Health nurse will help the patient call their primary care doctor or arrange a video consultation with a doctor on the Spectrum Health app.
Patients can create a Carol Care Circle to include family members or close friends. This allows loved ones or caregivers, like Clements, to request care and stay updated throughout the process, even when they can’t physically be with them.
The cost for the RN service is $35 for a half-hour visit, with prorated changes if the visit goes longer.
“We wanted to keep it at a reasonable price,” Czechowskyj said. “And there are no long-term commitments or contracts.”
On-call family nurse
Clements first requested a Carol Health nurse to help her mother bathe and deal with a bed sore that had developed.
Then, when Ellen fell and broke her arm, Clements had a Carol Health nurse assist with getting her safely into the car. She also asked the nurse to join them in the doctor’s office.
“The nurse went with me into the appointment,” Clements said. “She asked things I didn’t even think of.”
Today, Clements arranges twice-weekly Carol Health visits for her parents. Although her dad was initially hesitant to have strangers in the house, they quickly put him at ease.
According to Clements, access to an on-call family nurse from Carol Health gives her peace of mind.
“The nurses are very conscientious, caring, kind and knowledgeable,” Clements said. “I was so impressed. You get the feeling that they care.”