Home Health: A Safe Transition Home



Home Health is an opportunity to provide care, one patient at a time.

With no distractions, in a patient’s home, nurses and therapists have an opportunity to translate health care instructions into part of a patient’s daily routine.

Sixty percent (60%) of patients have unresolved questions related to their health care at the time of a hospital discharge.

The home health team provides safe transitions to home, providing follow-up care at home following a hospital stay, surgery, illness, or change in condition.

Identify barriers to care in the home.

Ensure doctor’s orders are being followed.

Explain post-hospital care in ways that patients understand.

Evaluate safety and medical needs.

This is the daily impact of a Health Calls home health nurse in a respected team.


Nurses in home health provide a highly skilled, broad range of nursing skills including chronic disease management, use astute assessment skills to identify potentially critical acute changes early,  fall risk assessment and interventions, medication management, complex wound care, and patient teaching for complex health needs and disability care.

Home health nurses are respected by the physician providers they work with. Home health nurses find rewards working in an interdisciplinary team alongside the physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, social worker, and home health aide to help maximize the patient’s abilities.

The entire team are the eyes and ears in the home, identifying and treating potentially health changes events EARLY before they become critical events. Patients will have better outcomes because the clinical team detects problems early and then intervene to prevent complications. These early solutions increase patient satisfaction and reduces medical costs by avoiding a hospital readmission.



Excellence. Integrity. Quality.

By the way, Health Calls is hiring RN’s. Looking for the best to serve Reading and Berks County.

Call 610-927-3166 or email MRadwanski@healthcallshomehealth.com for more information. FAX resume to 610-927-3164.


There’s Value In Connecting With The Good Times


A couple of years ago, I attended a meeting in Chicago. During some down time, I had the pleasure of exploring the Impressionist exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. While I was enjoying this beautiful collection, I was distracted by all of the people who walked in front of my view, and hurriedly took pictures of the art with their phones, and moved on to do the same with the next masterpiece rather than really looking at it and enjoying it. Will they remember how well light was captured at the various times of year in Monet’s Haystacks of Wheat?

What if, in every day life, we looked at life through borrowed eyes or with a sense of Christmas wonder? What if we spent more time with our happy memories?

In meditation, a suggestion is to focus on a memory of a place that brings a sense of peace in order to center on the meditation activity. I usually go to one of two places: the beach, or a quaint cottage I stayed at with my sisters. I hear the trickling of soothing water from the lake. It was peaceful, beautiful and I was so content and happy. Good place to go mentally for centering and happiness. I thought about this while reading an article that reminds us to Live in the Moment.

There’s value in regularly connecting with “the good times”.

As recently shared in the white paper, Dementia Caregiving Guide, spending time talking with Mom (who has Alzheimer’s) about a memory of a happy time with Dad is emotional validation. Life stories, memories from daily life, celebrations, vacations and special trips, and all positive connection of this kind with family and friend is well spent.

What emotion or experience does this picture create for you? Consider asking your parent if they ever saw a beautiful field of sunflowers like this. Where was it at? What were they doing that day? What other happy memories does it bring? What happens when you ask your child or grandchild about the photo? How many colors do they see? Who lives with those flowers? Ask them to tell you a story about the sunflowers. Do they make you happy?


Do you ever experience post-vacation blues? Feel overwhelmed and let down with that morp speed experience of ‘back to work’ after a much needed break? Bring some momentos home and print one, or several photos from the trip and keep them at your desk to keep the scenery, activity, scents, smells, and sounds alive. You work hard so you can play hard, so relive and savor it!

Do you wonder how you will manage dealing with your Mom’s new cancer diagnosis with the treatments and appointment schedule when you are trying to balance a full time job, a family, and a home? How about that time you overcame your fear of heights?

Write the story down, tell others about how you challenged yourself, both physically and mentally training for the hike you took and how you felt reaching the summit. Remembering how you overcame your fears will embolden you to pull together your resources and increase your confidence to deal with the current crisis. Remember that you researched and asked others for help while prepping for the hike. You need to do that with this challenge too, so you don’t burn yourself out.

One way to share your story is to write it down. Not a diary with gossipy type of memorabilia, but a journal in which you record the day to day events that have importance in your life. Record vacations, the one lined memorable or remarkable, startling phrases that your children or grandchildren have said. Take special care to note things you are grateful for, generosity others have shown you, things you have done to pay it forward, thoughts you have had while quietly taking a walk. The thoughts and things you record may be valuable and memorable to your family in the future. There are many approaches to journals including Journalling apps, and guided book journals. On-line journalling prompt sites are helpful to start the thought process.

Writers from my hometown just recreated our area’s rich history in a sight and sound extravaganza. Reading, Pa. has experienced tremendous financial loss as manufacturers have relocated elsewhere over the past 30 years. Reading Railroad was also once the largest corporation in the United States. The area’s history is rich, but we mourn who we were and are dismayed by the tougher and rougher times. In an article written about the multimedia performance, This is Reading, the author writes that the story created “a piece of art in a city that has fault lines”. The good news is that there are many strong and good-hearted, generous people who work hard every day to enhance the quality of lives in our town. New manufacturers and small business are finding their way. The People’s Chronicles is a local non-profit of story tellers with a mission to create a richer community through our local stories, told by people who created or experienced them.

Mike Little, Health Calls Owner and CEO was born and raised in Nitro, WV. Each year, Health Calls celebrates West Virginia Day. This is the birthday of the state (June 20) and commemorates the state’s succession from Virginia. It’s not our state holiday, but we respect and celebrate with him because it’s part of our synergistic unique company culture. We hear about differences in the way of life through his stories and we are richer from the experience. You and your loved ones, mine as well: we all have fault lines. With our storytelling, all the wrinkles and faulted lines, meaning…purpose…and community are created.

Carpe Diem. Be. Present. Tell stories. Keep a journal. Express gratitude. Pay attention to cues (the smell of pine, the crackle of the fireplace, the taste of salted caramel, the melody playing in the restaurant) that bring you to a happy memory and tell the remembered story. You and I each have a unique story. Tell it! Encourage your loved ones, people you work with, those you care for to tell their story, the memories of today and yesterday. Keep them in the present, happy and alive.

Enjoy the Fruits of Summer



Summertime is a great opportunity is to enjoy access to fresh food. Here in Berks County, locally grown food is abundant and available at area farmer’s markets and stands. A complete listing of seasonal and year-round markets and stands is available here.

The Penn Street Market is held in Reading every Thursday this summer from 10-2. The Food Trust is also at the Penn Street Market providing interactive demonstrations and food samples throughout the day. The Antietam Valley Farmers Market , is held in Carsonia Park on Saturday’s from 8:00-12:00 year round. West Reading also hosts an open air market on Sundays May through October in the 500 block of Penn Ave. from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Purchase some fresh food and follow these suggestions to get your family to eat more fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, and less pre-packaged, processed foods. Try  “rebranding ” delicious veggies as this article suggests.

  1. Describe the food in an indulgent, decadent way. As an example, “Juicy, luscious sweet cherries” sounds appealing and appetizing.
  2. Have fun competing to find the prettiest, smallest, largest fresh veggies to take home to try.
  3. Label food in a healthy positive way rather than a restrictive manner. “Suzie Sweet Pea” has had a way into the bellies of more children than simply telling kids the sweet peas are good for them.
  4. Go head to head in a friendly cook-off competition with family and friends for the most flavorful recipe. Invite others to taste test and name the winner of a Veggie Cook-off competition.
  5. Get the most of the experience, be mindful while enjoying the flavor and textures  of the foods you are eating.

Fresh fruits and vegetables abound. Get out there, visit a local market or stand, prepare some fresh foods and enjoy the moments of pleasure they provide!


Many Women Don’t Know Their Heart Disease Risks…And Neither Do Their Doctors.


Did you know that heart disease is the leading killer of U.S. women?

A recent survey of more than 1,000 women between 25 and 60 years of age found 45 percent were unaware that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women in America. Most women said they had had a checkup in the past year, but only 40 percent said the doctor had evaluated their heart health.



“Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable, yet women’s heart disease is underdiagnosed, under-researched and underfunded,” said British Robinson, head of the Women’s Heart Alliance, a nonprofit organization that paid for the study.



“It is critical that women ask their health care providers to check their hearts and that health care providers know that when it comes to heart disease, men and women are different — women’s hearts are smaller, their risk factors are different and their symptoms may be different,” she added.


What would you find more embarrassing: not being told you had risk factors and developing a critical heart event, or finding out that you have heart disease and hearing that you need to eat better and exercise?


Human behavior is interesting because the study also showed that 45 percent of women canceled or postponed a scheduled appointment because of their weight. We would rather bury our heads in the sand, like the ostrich, than keep an appointment, have a crucial conversation and get educated.


“We clearly have a lot of work to do to make women aware that heart disease is a bigger threat to their health than all types of cancer combined,” said study leader Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the women’s heart center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.


SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, news release, June 22, 2017

Fulfilling Health Calls Mission One Relationship At A Time


Health Calls received an unsolicited testimonial from a family this past week. It makes us so proud and speaks to Health Calls Mission.

‘Health Calls is a wonderful service! All of the nurses are of the highest quality and you really establish a relationship with them.


Health Calls is always available and ready to help no matter the time! I’d never use another agency with my mom’s care!


Congrats (to) everyone… associated with this fine organization!’

As invited guests in people’s homes, we must negotiate care. We cannot simply “do”. This is a shift in the perspective  that often accompanies health care provided in a hospital or other clinical settings. In those settings, the structure and processes require patients to adapt to the organization.

In home health, we are the guests.  The ‘house rules’ could get in the way. Instead, Health Calls staff is focused on teamwork, alongside other community professionals to treat patients where they live. This requires actively listening to the patient and family: finding out what is important, what can be negotiated, and then aid and inspire patients to become informed about their conditions and take an active role in their treatment.

The balance of power shifts away from the healthcare team to the individual and their family in a healthy partnership. We support the patient and family while they build skills, and foster their confidence to continue to lead active and fulfilling lives, long after our work
is done.

We are thankful to be invited!

The Family Dog Helps Keep Older Adults Active



Reuters Health reported the results of a study this week that senior citizens who live with dogs meet exercise goals simply by walking them. Researchers matched 43 older adults with dogs to another 43 without dogs and measured their time spent walking. Compared to those without canine companions, dog owners walked on average 23 minutes more a day – enough to meet U.S. and international exercise recommendations for substantial health benefits, the research found.

“We saw a big increase in healthy activity and at a level that is considered to be health promoting.”


“If you’d like to get a dog, don’t be put off by the fact you’re elderly. It’s good for the dog, and it’s good for you.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults do a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week.

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for overall health and it is the one intervention that in and of itself has been proven to decrease the risk of falling. Lack of exercise/movement leads to weakness, decreased balance, and decreased circulation, which will increase your falls risk and make you more vulnerable to other medical conditions.

You are never too old to start exercising. For fall prevention, focus on lower extremity strengthening and flexibility exercises along with specific balance exercises. If you do not know how to start exercising please consult your doctor and local physical therapist.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2s0YN1Y BMC Public Health 2017. Reuters Health Information © 2017 Walking Their Dogs Keeps Elderly Active – Medscape – Jun 09, 2017.

9 Steps to a Smooth Recovery after Total Knee Replacement Surgery


Below is a list of important things to do after a total knee replacement to help you have a successful and easier recovery.

1) Prepare a Safe Home Environment

You will be using a walker or crutches the first few weeks after total knee replacement surgery. You want to make sure your furniture is arranged so that you can fit the walker/crutches through all pathways. There should be no cords or throw rugs in the pathways for you to trip over.

Tub seats, grab bars, and dressing aids will make your activities of daily living safer and this equipment will be recommended to you by your occupational therapist. Showering is not recommended until a home safety evaluation is performed by your home care occupational therapist.

Also remember footwear is important. You want to make sure you are wearing non-skid socks/shoes. Do NOT walk wearing only regular socks, TEDS, or bare feet because your walking and balance will be different the first few weeks after surgery and you do not want to slip and fall.

2) Balance Activity and Rest

Some of you have been looking forward to resting as you recover, others are afraid to move, and then we have those of you who do not know how to rest and overdo it when you return home.

In order for you to have a successful recovery after a total knee replacement, it is very important for you to move. Get up and walk or stand at least once every hour during the day. You want to focus your activity on your therapy program to restore motion and strength, while avoiding strenuous activities.

As much as it is important to move, it just as important to rest and allow your body to heal.

3) Position Your New Knee Correctly

Whenever you are resting with your leg up, keep the operated leg as STRAIGHT as possible. This means NO pillows under the knee. Having the knee bent throughout the day/night, will cause knee flexion contractures, decreased motion of your joint, and poor surgical outcomes.

Total knee replacement leg position

4) Chill Out

Use an ice or cold pack surrounding the operated knee to control pain and swelling. It is important to ice the whole knee, placing the ice/cold pack on top AND underneath the knee.

Cold Pack Placement

Make sure you place a towel between the ice/cold pack and your operated leg and keep in place for 20 minutes. Use the ice immediately after performing your exercises and throughout the day to control pain and swelling.

You can make your own cold packs by squeezing a bottle of dish soap into a one quart Ziploc bag, then place that bag into a second Ziploc bag (in case it leaks) and place it flat in the freezer.

5) Keep Wound Infection Free

Keep the incision clean and dry. Do not use any lotion on the incision unless instructed by your doctor or nurse. If you note any new redness, swelling, or drainage from the incision call your home care team right away. If your incision does drain, cover it with a sterile dressing.

6) Prevent Blood Clots

There are several methods used to prevent blood clots after surgery and they will vary depending on your needs and surgeon recommendations.

TEDS or other anti-embolic stockings are compression stockings that are effective in preventing blood clots and to help control the swelling. Follow your doctor’s orders for wear schedule of the stockings.

Blood thinners are usually started after surgery. Coumadin (warfarin), Lovenox (enoxaparin), Xarelto (rivaroxaban), and aspirin are the most common blood thinners. If you are on Coumadin, you will need to have your blood level checked periodically to make sure you are getting the appropriate dose.
Movement is also an important step in blood clot prevention. This ankle pump exercise specifically will help with circulation and edema control. Perform 10 repitions of this exercise every hour while you are awake.

If you notice any of the following symptoms call your home care provider immediately as these are all possible signs of a blood clot:

tenderness, redness, or pain in your calf
increase swelling of the operated leg
increased warmth in the back of the leg
a red streak moving up the leg
If you develop sudden shorness of breath or chest pain call 911 immediately as this could be a sign of a blood clot in the lungs and can be life threatening.

7) Take Medication as Directed

It is important to take only the medication that you were instructed to take after surgery by your physician. You do NOT want to start taking any vitamins, supplements, or over the counter medication without your doctor’s permission as they could interact with the other medication you are taking, especially the blood thinner. Take medication at the same time every day as directed by your physician.

8) Manage Your Pain

Make sure you take adequate pain medication to allow you to sleep well at night and to participate in your exercise program with minimal discomfort. Do not be afraid to use the pain medication as directed by your physician. With less pain you will have a faster recovery. Remember to take your pain medication with food. Take action as soon as the pain starts. Use ice/cold pack along with the medication to help relieve the pain.

9) Eat a Balanced Diet

Your appetite may not be what it used to be before surgery, but you want to make sure you are getting the proper nutrition for healing. Continue to drink plenty of fluids. 8 cups of water a day will help you stay hydrated and help prevent constipation. Note that constipation often occurs after surgery as a side effect of the pain medication.

Try to limit your coffee intake and avoid alcohol altogether.

If you are taking Coumadin, you need to restrict your vitamin K intake. Foods rich in vitamin K include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, liver, green beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, soybeans, soybean oil, spinach, kale, lettuce, turnip greens, cabbage, and onions.

Please remember you just went through major surgery. Your activity level and medications have changed. It is not unusual to experience difficulty concentrating or lack of interest in activities/hobbies after surgery. Muscle soreness, tightness, and stiffness are all normal after surgery.

These are general guidelines. If you have been instructed otherwise by your doctor or healthcare provider please follow their instructions. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact your home care provider.

Happy Day! Here’s to a Speedy Recovery!