Support and personalized care for Doug and Nancy

During 56 years of marriage, Doug and Nancy Storaasli have been blessed with a life well lived.

The couple ran a successful business, raised three children, enjoyed splitting time between homes in Washington and Arizona, and welcomed many grandchildren and a great grandchild into the family.

When a health crisis hit – an acute pulmonary saddle embolism that nearly took Doug’s life –the couple prepared to weather the storm together as they had always done over the decades. Yet, they were far from alone.

In addition to support from family, Doug and Nancy found help through the team at Sun Health’s Care Transition program. Care Transitions is designed to ease the transition from hospital to home through nurse visits and calls.

“The assistance from nurse Shirley Burnette was invaluable,” Nancy said. “She is a very sensitive, gentle spirit, very knowledgeable and supportive, and I felt like she was genuinely concerned about us. I looked forward to her calls. It was very comforting.”

Providing vital services

Comfort and support are vital as patients make the sometimes difficult transition from hospital to home. That’s where the Sun Health Care Transitions program comes in, serving residents across the Sun Cities. The evidence-based program focuses on helping patients to self-manage their health conditions and break the cycle of hospital readmissions by improving their confidence.

Qualifying diagnoses for the program include heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes. Patients hospitalized with these conditions are often most at high risk for readmission.

The program’s success revolves around the range of services provided, including: reviewing a patient’s medication regimen, educating patients on their conditions and potential red flags that could lead to readmission, and ensuring timely physician follow-up care. The team also connects patients with helpful community resources.

Looking back, Doug said he had had a few “bumps in the road” when it came to his health. But nothing like the massive pulmonary saddle embolism.

“This one is the one which has really impacted me the most,” he said. “It has definitely been an eye opener.”

Team approach to care

Doug was at home when he collapsed. Nancy was about to leave for a meeting in just minutes but luckily found her husband on the floor in the bedroom and immediately called 911, the EMT’s found him without a pulse, having to perform CPR 2 times before getting him to the hospital.

“I am most thankful and grateful to all of the folks that attended to my care, from the EMT’s that kept me alive and got me to the ER at the hospital, to the doctors and nurses and attendants who cared for me during my stay!!”

After a lengthy stay, the couple was pleasantly surprised to get a Care Transitions call about scheduling a home visit with nurse Marianne Del Debbio.

Marianne stayed with the couple for about an hour and a half, responding to questions, reviewing medications and explaining the ins and outs of Doug’s medical care at the hospital.

“She was so good about answering questions and clarifying information about the specific procedures he had gone through,” Nancy said. “It was very, very helpful and supportive.”

Doug appreciated the level of detail from Marianne after the blur of his hospital stay.

Soon after that visit from Marianne, the couple began receiving calls from Shirley.

“She would answer any questions that we would have and she would remember that there was an appointment that we had or a lab report we received,” Nancy said. “She was right there, spot on.”

Serving the community

The Care Transitions program is supported by Sun Health Foundation donors, and offered at no cost to the community. Both Doug and Nancy highly recommend it to other families, noting that the care is so personalized.

As the couple began navigating the uncertain road ahead, one thing was clear to Nancy and she was quick to share it with her partner of 56 years.

“How darn much I love this guy. He’s been my rock all these years and it’s just amazing how much I love him,” she said.

 

Sun Health Care Transitions is uniquely focused on providing patients and family caregivers with the skills, confidence, and tools they need to assert a more active role in their health care.