1. Logan-Mullings, Gale LMSW, CCM
  2. Ruel, Susan Rita PhD

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There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but in home care, we could paraphrase that expression and say that it takes a multidisciplinary team to care for a patient. Thinking back on the many New Yorkers I have cared for since I joined the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) almost 9 years ago, I fondly remember visiting a VNSNY CHOICE member named George. He and his wife Gloria had come to New York City from Panama and had been married for over 50 years. George was 83 years old and had diabetes. He reported himself as being compliant with medication, diet and his treatment plan, yet his blood glucose remained uncontrolled. During my home visit, Gloria overheard George telling me that he eats only one spoonful of rice a day. She emerged from the kitchen waving a large serving spoon and said: "This is the spoon George uses!" The three of us had a good laugh.


That was a signal, though, that the nurse on our team should be consulted about his persistent high blood glucose levels. The nurse made a visit to teach George and his wife Gloria about the many intricacies of diabetes management. She also collaborated with George's physician to adjust his medications for better diabetes control. The nurse determined that a consult to the registered dietitian who works with us was in order. The registered dietitian was able to help George's wife adapt many of his favorite meals to have fewer carbohydrates. Meanwhile, I continued working with George on his anxieties related to taking care of his wife financially. I believe that George knew his time was drawing near and he wanted to make sure that Gloria would be taken care of. The social work assistant helped by looking into housing and other benefits to which Gloria would be entitled. As we put several community and social service resources into place, George's fears and anxiety started to subside.


People often think that you have to do things on a grand scale to effect change or have positive outcomes, but often it's the little things that have an impact and make a difference. In this particular case, the small contributions of many healthcare team members produced the best outcomes for this patient and his wife. George and Gloria and his doctor worked with our entire team to provide the best care. Looking back, I remember these simple, everyday experiences with George and his wife as good examples of how we clinicians collaborate closely with our VNSNY colleagues in other disciplines to ensure that we are putting our patients and communities first.


As a social worker, I focus on my colleagues as well as my patients. I try to be that person who helps to reignite a spark among my teammates. I try not to forget that our "helping" professions can, at times, feel a bit thankless. Therefore, I feel energized about helping others recognize their value and contribution-so we all feel motivated to keep putting forth our best efforts every day. For me, the key to making a difference in the lives of my teammates and of members like George is to show empathy by taking the time to understand their perspectives, consider their feelings, and make a genuine effort to assist in any way possible. In home care, it definitely takes a team to care for each patient. This is how we teammates keep each other in top form to do our best for George and for more than 35,000 other New Yorkers whom we VNSNY clinicians care for every day in our communities.