May 5, 2017

Melissa Bartley, a registered nurse who works for Concierge Home Care, knows how to demonstrate gratitude. So does Megan Sams, who works for VITAS Healthcare.

Visiting Station 42’s B-shift
Both women and a team of their coworkers recently visited Station 42’s B-shift to thank the crew for an emergency response that exceeded their expectations, but more on that in a moment. The original center of attention was an elderly woman who is a client of Concierge Home Care.

Bartley was coordinating the 97-year-old woman’s placement into a local rehabilitation center because the woman was struggling to care for herself in her own home. When Concierge Home Care repeatedly called the woman to schedule transportation to the center, she didn’t answer the phone.

“That was not normal for her,” Bartley said. “That’s what stemmed the call to JSO for the wellness check.”

After a few knocks on the woman’s front door with no answer, JSO checked the back of the house and soon spotted her through a window. She was on the floor and apparently couldn’t move. Moments later, Engine 42’s Lt. Todd Kasica, Eng. Heath O’Shea and Firefighter Beth Harkins were exploring their options for making entry into the house. Eventually, O’Shea grabbed a Halligan tool and broke through one of the plate glass windows. Harkins climbed through and then unlocked a door so Rescue 42’s Lt. Mike Binder and Eng. Jimmy Osborne could begin patient care.

JSO had notified Bartley, and she arrived in time to watch the firefighters in action. She was impressed by their compassion, but what really got her attention was the action Engine 42 took once the call was done. Kasica and his crew bought supplies at a home improvement store, returned to the house and boarded up the window.

“I’ve been in home health care for 18 years,” Bartley said. “This is the first time I’ve seen this level of attention. I was just so touched that they took time to secure her home.”

When Sams, who works for VITAS Healthcare, learned about Engine 42’s extra efforts from Bartley, she was also impressed.

“We hear different stories, but nothing like this. I was blown away,” said Sams.

Kasica and O’Shea have heard about plenty of JFRD personnel taking similar measures, and they don’t consider their actions extraordinary.

“We didn’t do this for the recognition,” O’Shea said. “We just got caught.”

“She [the patient] had enough on her plate, and she didn’t need to be worried about her home being unsecured,” Kasica said.

About a week after the emergency call, Bartley, Sams and representatives from both health care agencies covered Station 42’s kitchen table with enough donated food for lunch and dinner just to let the crew know how much they appreciated the attention given to the elderly woman and her home.

“They went above and beyond,” Bartley said.