Remembering Alan A.

Sue and Al

Alan A was the founding patient’ of Home Health Works, an association that lasted almost 20 years, up to his passing in October 2009. Here, Home Health Works founder, Sue Minkoff R.N. tells the story of this touching relationship.

In 1991, I was working for a Clearwater Home Health agency when I received a call from a friend saying her friend’s husband had been in a car accident which had left him severely brain damaged, half his body was paralyzed and he was unable to eat or talk.

I went to visit Alan and his wife at their home and that was the start of our long association. I cared for Alan 6 hours a day, six days a week.

In 1992, with Alan as my inspiration and at his wife’s urging, I decided to start my own agency and Home Health Works Nursing Agency was born. She expected a very high standard of care and that’s exactly what my nurses and I brought to Alan.

I set up a tiny one-room office in Clearwater. One of my sons later helped me expand Home Health Works.

Early on we were inspected by State Farm (Alan’s insurers who paid for his care). The nurse who did the inspection called me and said: ” I have never seen anyone in Alan’s situation so well cared for. His house is immaculate, he looks so healthy. He has none of the problems which similar patients have. This is the ideal standard of care. I am moved to tears. This is what we strive for.”

At the game

From 1992 to 1998, I was sharing Alan’s shifts with my nurses and between us we made sure that every afternoon we would take him on an outing swimming, shopping, visiting a theme park, the movies and visiting nature preserves etc. Our routine was rehab in the morning and then a trip in the afternoon. Alan was never at home for an entire day and I am sure this physical and mental stimulation kept him alive for as long as it did.

We also made all his food from scratch with lots of fruits, vegetables, fresh chicken, yogurt etc. so we could ensure he was getting the very best nutrition for someone who was tube-fed. It was actually an ideal diet for almost anyone. People always remarked how terrific his skin looked.

During this time, Alan and his wife divorced and I was honored that a judge chose me to be Alan’s temporary guardian until I was able to find a highly qualified guardian, who was trained in his specific type of physical therapy.

Two of his nurses, Sue and Christy, cared for Alan for a 15-18 year period, so he had great continuity of care. They made the atmosphere feel like a real family home which was a comfort to his relatives. One of his nurses, Diane, was a certified swim instructor. She would take him swimming in his pool or in the gulf on her shift. Sue once took him boating in Wicki-Watchee. Both of her kids helped with his rehab as did my 2 sons. When he passed away , his nurses felt like they had lost a close family member; as one of them said “I thought I would grow old with Alan.” We all shared lot’s of hugs and jokes and laughs with Alan.

Home Health Works motto has always been Caring for people like family and that’s a standard we always strive to meet. The Alan A story embodies what we offer.

Testimonials from Alan’s family

Thumbs Up!

My father’s care was second to none. Home Health Works has just been outstanding throughout all its years of providing great nurse care. Although I’m in Oregon , the nurses did a great job of keeping me in the loop and made me feel very connected to my father’s life. Chris A Alan’s son .

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making Al’s home a home and not a hospital room. For it to be a place Chris could come to and be happy with his Dad, and not be in some sterile environment. Thank you for the laughs we shared. He never would have received the quality of care that was established because of you and the others. I know you considered Al as not only a friend, but a family member, as did Sue and Christy and that is what made all the difference. Margaret Chris’s Mother.