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Peace of mind pays off

A health care emergency with a happy ending

Created date

April 12th, 2016
Ann’s Choice resident Ellen Newman plays accordion in the community’s Second Time Around Band.

Ann’s Choice resident Ellen Newman plays accordion in the community’s Second Time Around Band.

Ellen Newman is an independent-minded person and one of the most active residents at Ann’s Choice, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa. 

She plays accordion and flute in the Second Time Around Band, is vice president of the Jewish Residents’ Community, and is on the committee for the annual gala that benefits the Ann’s Choice Benevolent Care Fund.

Besides her other campus activities, she walks Ann’s Choice’s circuit of interconnected hallways and bridges for exercise. 

So what happened to her in the middle of her accordion lesson last November came as a complete surprise. 

Quick action

Ellen and her accordion teacher were in her home ready to begin her lesson; Anne Koch, the home support nurse who manages Ellen’s medications, happened to be there, too.

Home support is tailored to a participant’s individual needs and is a critical link within the community’s continuum of health care. Because it coordinates and communicates between the resident, the Ann’s Choice care team, and the family, home support also provides invaluable peace of mind. 

That day, when Ellen opened her accordion book, she didn’t recognize any of the music, even though she’d been using the book for months. She also had trouble coordinating her hands.

“I had no idea what was going on,” Ellen says, “but Anne [Koch] launched into action.”

Koch, a registered nurse, suspected a transient ischemic attack (TIA)—in effect, a mini-stroke. She called the campus medical center and requested an immediate appointment.

Ellen’s neighbor dropped what he was doing and took her to the appointment. When the nurse practitioner who examined Ellen told her to go to the emergency room, Ellen’s neighbor drove her there. 

“That’s what people are like here,” she says. “We look after one another.”

Ellen’s electronic medical records were waiting for her when she arrived at the ER: “My medications, my health history, everything,” she says. 

She was diagnosed with a TIA and spent four days in the hospital. On her release, a shuttle from the Ann’s Choice transportation department drove her home. 

During Ellen’s hospital stay, the campus medical center and the health care team at Ann’s Choice were kept abreast of her situation. Afterward, she had a follow-up appointment with her doctor, an Ann’s Choice physician whose office is on campus.

Back to normal in no time

By December, Ellen was back to her usual schedule. She even hosted a special movie event on Christmas Day; she showed The Pianist and served light refreshments for a group of neighbors. 

She’s also resumed doing part-time volunteer accounting for her daughter’s business. “I get paid in hugs and kisses,” Ellen says.

Looking back on her experience, she credits Koch’s quick action for her positive outcome. “If the nurse hadn’t been there, I’d have gotten in bed thinking all I needed was rest, and who knows what might have happened.”