By DAN ROBINSON
Kenton Times staff writer
ADA — Caring for others is more than just a job to Lisha Wilkerson, RN.
As the assistant supervisor at Community Health Professionals in Ada, she is one of four nurses who make home visits to check up on residents in Hardin, Hancock, and Allen counties. She may stop in to draw blood from a patient so they don’t have to leave their home to visit the doctor’s office during a pandemic and her next stop might be someone in hospice care, where she attempts to make their days as comfortable as possible.
“I love it,” said Wilkerson.
The Kenton High School graduate has worked at CHP for six years, but caring for others have been a part of her life before that, she said.
“I have always wanted to go into nursing,” she said. “My older sister is a nurse and I have always looked up to her.”
Wilkerson helped care for her ailing grandmother while she was in nursing school and realized helping patients stay in their homes was important to them and to their families. It didn’t take long before the people she visited for CHP became more than just patients in her schedule.
Local home care & hospice provider
As she stops in during a typical day, she shares stories about her children and hears updates on family members as she performs her duties.
Hospice care is one of the major services offered by CHP, Wilkerson said, but it also offers many other ways to assist patients. The company remains one of the last hospice services available in the county, she noted. Hi-Point Hospice no longer has an office locally, said Wilkerson, and Universal Hospice is not taking new patients.
Currently CHP provides hospice care for six patients.
“It’s our goal to give them quality of life and keep them comfortable so they can live life to the fullest before passing on,” she said.
Comfort and convenience
“I appreciate them coming here and making sure everything is all right,” said Joe Palchinsky, one of the CHP hospice patients. “It’s very convenient. If there is any element of discomfort that pops up, they spot it and try to address it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
It is a comfort to have the nurses in his home, said Palchinsky. They are able to offer hospice patients a variety of nurses, doctors and therapists, she continued. CHP works in partnership with P&R Pharmacy in Van Wert, which can deliver prescriptions the same day. If there is a need to get symptoms under control, the hospice patients can be taken to an inpatient unit in Defiance, where they can stay for up to five days.
That facility also allows respite for family members who need a break from the stresses of caring for a loved one. said Wilkerson.
“They keep me active,” said Palchinsky. “I try to do what I can for myself rather than to depend on others as much as possible.”
Variety of services
CHP can also bring in a massage or musical therapist, said Wilkerson, Music can be therapeutic for the patients, she noted, and the therapist can share Christian hymns, Christmas carols or popular numbers with the patient.
The service often rotates the nurses who come to the home to give them a “new pair of eyes” to see how the patient is doing, said Wilkerson.
There are homemaking services available to patients if so ordered by a doctor. CHP also offers educational services and skilled nursing for post surgery patient needs.
“If a patient is experiencing pain at a level 10 and we can help them get that down to a three, it is very rewarding,” Wilkerson said.
Neighbor and caregiver
But, her care of patients goes beyond taking their vital readings and performing medical procedures. As she stops at the home of Karen Reams, Wilkerson is drawing blood and checking her lungs during her visit. But she and her family are neighbors to the Karen and her husband, Jerry, and she brought her children by last week for trick-or-treat. The three of them laughed about the visit as Wilkerson made her report.
“Her visits are very important to me,” said Karen. “It is hard for me to get around and walk because of the oxygen tanks and to be able to have the nurses come here is a life-saver.”
It is a comfort to know if she needs assistance, Wilkerson is just a block away,” said Karen. She looks forward to the visits.
“Lisha cheers me up,” Karen said.
The next stop for Wilkerson is at the farm of John and Sharon Calvelage between Ada and Bluffton. Sharon had surgery and Wilkerson is there to check her incision. During one of her recent visits, she learned that John had recently had heart problems and she checked on his health while she was there for Sharon.
“It is good to know I don’t have to go to the doctor’s office all the time,” said Sharon. “The nurses check for infection and let me know am healing and that means a lot.”
Community Health Professionals is one of 20 partner agencies of United Way of Hardin County.
Photo: Lisha Wilkerson, RN checks the vitals of Joe Palchinsky at his home outside of Ada. Palchinsky is a hospice patient with CHP Hospice, where Wilkerson is one of four nurses to check on him regularly. Kenton Times photo/Dan Robinson