The Right Fit–Advanced Nursing & Home Support
Tom’s days are busy. And they certainly aren’t easy. But, thanks to the help of a team of expert caregivers, his days are filled with small rewards and major accomplishments.
Tom Guenthner is a C3-4 quadriplegic. Nearly ten years ago, he suffered a traumatic fall that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Because of the severity of his injury, Tom needs round-the-clock care that is provided in his home by Advanced Nursing & Home Support.
Advanced Nursing & Home Support is uniquely equipped to handle complicated cases like Tom’s. A private, locally owned and operated home health care agency, Advanced provides exceptional in-home health care, nursing care and companionship services that allow elderly and disabled individuals to remain in their own homes. The Company serves Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland, and is distinctive in that it can handle a wide array of home care needs, from situations requiring non-medical companion caregivers to intricate cases like Tom’s requiring skilled nursing care.
Tom began his career as an airport dispatcher at just 19 years old. He enjoyed his work and remained in that position for 24 years before deciding to retire and launch a second career.
“I decided I wanted to become an electrician,” Tom recalled. “I became an apprentice and went through all the schooling. I did 4 years worth of schooling in a year and a half and became an electrician.”
In addition to becoming an electrician, Tom also decided to become a business owner and started his own company, Perpetual Energy Conservation, in June 2004, shortly after passing his journeyman’s exam. One of his first tasks as a small business owner was to establish an insurance policy to cover his employees and himself.
“I went to my insurance company and met with this nice lady, and she was telling me all these statistics, and my eyes were glazing over,” said Tom. “I asked her to write me the very best policy she could to cover me and my employees and left her a check for $2,500.”
A little over two months later, Tom was at a job site when he fell 30 feet from a ladder and broke his neck. He was immediately unable to move anything below his neck.
“At first, I was completely bed dependent,” Tom recalled. “When you have these injuries, there is really no explanation as to why things work or don’t work, but thankfully my diaphragm decided to work, which has allowed me to breath on my own sometimes, which is an amazing accomplishment considering the injury.”
Because he can breathe independently, Tom is able to be without a ventilator for short intervals. “I don’t have to be completely dependent on a ventilator, which also helps me avoid the respiratory illnesses that often come along with ventilators,” he explained.
Following his initial six-week stay in the hospital, Tom was sent to a specialty medical center in Atlanta for several months of additional treatment. There he was weaned off the ventilator and treated for a severe pressure wound that had developed during his time in the hospital.
After being released from the medical center, Tom returned to Maryland and lived in an extended stay hotel while locating a home that could be modified to fit his needs. “When I came home from Atlanta, my caseworker from the Chesapeake Employees’ Insurance Company located Advanced Nursing & Home Support for me,” Tom said.
Tom began receiving care from Advanced Nursing & Home Support in December 2004. Since then, the company has carefully recruited and screened caregivers to work with Tom. “You can’t just send someone over to take care of me. My care needs are very specific and very complicated, and there is a lot of training necessary,” explained Tom.
In fact, in addition to the their normal background check and interview process, Advanced sets up a special meet and greet session between Tom and any potential caregivers. Following the meet and greet, the selected caregivers receive 56 hours of orientation and training before they begin working independently.
Tom’s clinical case manager, Susan Hoover, explained, “Tom’s case is so intricate, and our screening process is intense for that reason. We look for people with a specific skill set, for instance advanced ventilator experience, but we also look for people who will be a good fit with Tom and make him feel comfortable.”
Obviously, the screening process has worked, as some of Tom’s caregivers have been with him for years. “It is a demanding job, but I’ve had some nurses who are worth their weight in gold,” said Tom, who noted that Arlene Bowen has been working with him since 2007 and has always provided exceptional care. “Arlene is with me four days a week, and she treats me like a member of her family,” he added.
For Tom, receiving quality, compassionate care is even more important because of the severity of his injury. “As a quadriplegic, you are so needy, and that can be very scary,” he said. “With a nurse like Arlene, it takes so much stress off you because you know that she will do everything she can for you.”
In fact, many of the nurses provided by Advanced Nursing & Home Support have formed real bonds with Tom. “There are several nurses who are far above average, and I say that knowing how hard it is to find great nurses,” he said.
Tom has also benefited from the expert care coordination provided by his case manager, Susan. “Sue is unbelievable. She works so hard to ensure that I receive professional services. Instead of seeing a problem, she is always looking for a solution,” he said. Assisting Sue are a dedicated team of Advanced staff members who work behind the scenes to maintain Tom’s worldclass care by recruiting, training and motivating caregivers.
In addition to providing for his daily care needs, the Advanced Nursing & Home Support caregivers also help Tom complete twice daily physical therapy sessions, which include a variety of exercises and range of motion activities. “There are not any boring days,” noted Tom, who explained that his physical therapy and medical needs keep both him and the caregivers busy.
Because of his specific care needs and his busy schedule, Tom knows how important it is to find the right fit when it comes to caregivers. For him, that means engaging in an extensive screening process and contracting with a company that he knows has his best interest at heart.
“I think it is so important to take the time to meet with in-home caregivers and get to know them before you hire them. This job is not just for anybody; it is for very special, very qualified people,” Tom concluded. Having found the right fit with Advanced Nursing & Home Support and their expert caregivers, Tom is able to continuing living in the comfort of his home.