Octogenarian Marjorie Brower was preparing a meal for her late husband who had Parkinson’s when she fell in the kitchen. “I opened the oven door…and then the front door was ringing… and I tripped over the oven door as I went to open the (front) door,” she says.
The result was a gaping wound in her leg. She bandaged it up herself, but it wouldn’t heal, which is not uncommon for the elderly; as we grow older, our skin becomes thinner, and our blood vessels become more fragile and are prone to break more easily.
After about a week, a VNA nurse, who was caring for her husband three days a week, noticed the wound and suggested Marjorie seek professional help. “It got infected, that’s why the nurse was concerned. She was helping my husband, and she said to me, ‘I think you’d better get the VNA for your leg,” says Marjorie, who’s been a resident of Vero Beach for 21 years.
That’s what home health care is like with the VNA. When our nurses visit their patients, they’re doing more than just treating a medical issue, they’re caring for the whole person, which includes the patients’ families.
Marjorie was thankful for the nurse’s erudite advice, and with the help of her physician, who referred the VNA, she did get help. For two months, twice a week, two VNA nurses took turns visiting her and provided wound care, a type of care that the VNA specializes in. Patients can self-refer, and can be referred in a multitude of ways, but a doctor’s order is needed for skilled care like wound care.
Not every home health agency offers wound care. Proper wound care requires a specialized certification through the Wound Care Education Institute (WCEI), which provides an evidence-based approach that includes real-life examples. The course consists of 13 modules that the clinicians are required to complete before sitting for the certification exam.
Marjorie, who is the mother of three and grandmother of five, is incredibly grateful for the expertise of ‘her’ VNA wound care clinicians. “They were wonderful. They would take off the bandage and wash it. It was a very bad cut, but they helped so much,” she says.