“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” — Hubert Humphrey
In September 2018, Edgardo Mendia suffered a stroke and found himself in a skilled nursing home. When he was strong enough to be moved to an acute rehabilitation facility, he came to Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation program.
His daughter and only child, Emilie, took a break from her job in Washington, D.C., to be in San Diego while her father recuperated in the hospital. As with all family members and friends, Sharp Grossmont’s nursing staff informed her of the opportunity to participate in the Care Partner Program, designed to integrate a patient’s family member into that patient’s own care team. Care Partners become the go-between for patient and staff during the patient’s stay and are involved far beyond the average visitor.
“As my dad’s caregiver, I have all these questions and want to make sure I’m advocating for the best care he can get, because it’s hard as a patient to advocate for yourself,” Emilie says.
Emilie participates in her father’s physical therapy sessions, working alongside her father’s care team, which in turn helps her to understand what is needed to keep the progress going. A range of drills help Edgardo to regain his strength and cognitive functions, and Emilie is right there with him.
“He likes it when I tell him what to do — I’m the boss right now,” jokes Emilie. Under his breath, Edgardo quips, “More like the gestapo.”
“It’s great for my progress,” he continues. “She makes me pay attention to my medication, why I take it, and reminds me what it’s for. Also, to exercise more and eat healthy food.”
Emilie says she’s grateful to have the chance to be involved and learn. “What I’m really impressed with is the rehab team meetings, where they do an evaluation and analysis of my Dad,” Emilie says. “It’s the whole team of PTs, OTs, the nurse — everyone who works with my Dad — and I actually get to be in that meeting.”
Knowing the importance of caregiver involvement, Sharp Grossmont’s nursing staff offers and explains the Care Partner Program opportunity to all families with loved ones in the hospital. If the patient is on board, a Care Partner is born.
“The Care Partner Program helps us to create a partnership with the patients and their families so that we are all working toward the common goal of getting that patient well,” says Louise White, chief nursing officer. “Involving and educating a patient’s family here at the hospital, and preparing them for what needs to happen after discharge, gives the family and patient the tools and knowledge they need to continue their progress once they’re back home,” she says.
“I would definitely recommend becoming a Care Partner,” says Emilie. “It reinforces the value of family, and what we will do to take care of those we love.”
For the news media: To talk with chief nursing offer Louise White about the Care Partners Program at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.