The Right Team at the Right Time II

By Barbara Brandt

Over 18 months ago, I wrote a blog about the care that my father receives at Oak Meadows Memory Care near my home. My soon-to-be 96 year old dad is special to me as he cared for me as a 9 month old baby through adulthood because my mom had severe Type I diabetes for over forty years before the disease took her.

Because many of you interact with me professionally, you know of his health decline as his body gives into his years-long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.  I’ve reflected about how fortunate we are to have many health care teams surround him and our family as he slipped into Hospice Care.  He is surrounded by a nurse practitioner faculty member, LifeSprk nurses and home health assistants, social workers and the occasional pharmacist and occupational therapist.  His physician routinely visits every 6-8 weeks and is always a call away. 

Norman recovering the body of Frank M. Andrews, Commander of the European Theatre of Operations and plane crew in Iceland in 1943.

I personally feel enveloped in people-centered, collaborative care as all are ever concerned about him, me and my family – we are a team.  They are always there for me as I walk into the world in his mind everyday:  the orange clowns in the sky, the snow on 90 degree days, the men who are trying to steal his money, his decision to go back to work, how he will sell his three apartments, the new restaurant he wants to try --so on and so forth.  The team always asked me if he is worried or frightened – the answer is always “no” as his cheerful, optimistic personality continues to shine.  There are only a few people – children – who can snap him into play and long ago stories for hours – and discover events that a life time with my dad never revealed to me.  This period of our lives together is both disturbing and magical.  Having a reassuring team with my family and me allows me to direct a national center and carry on my life’s work.

In early winter this year, the University of Minnesota School of Nursing asked me if they could write a story about Dad, Dianne Willer-Sly, our team and me for Minnesota Nursing.  As I relayed to the writer, my dad has experienced fine specialty health care over the years:  internist, neurologist, occasional surgeon, nursing, and unfortunately many emergency physicians after falls.  But the number of falls resulting in two hip fractures and a devastating humerus fracture coupled with declining memory, it was time for a new model of care by multiple teams, led by Dr. Willer-Sly. 

From left, Barbara Brandt; Angela Kircher, RN, hospice nurse; Norman Fifield; Hayley Gindlin, DNP student; Jeff Capuzzi, RN; Dianne Willer-Sly, nurse practitioner; and Helen Okakor, resident assistant. Courtesy of MN Nursing.

With the publication of the Minnesota Nursing story “The Feeling is Mutual”, I thought it was important for Dianne and me to describe from our unique perspectives what exemplary care in the community looks like everyday.  On a day that Dad was not seeing orange clowns, he agreed. 

We present to you two videos –  the first is a conversation about Dad’s care and how the patient and family become the center of the team; and another, describing the Geriatrics “Mega Team” at HealthPartners and how the cultural norms on the team and within the organization contribute to the best possible team-based care.  As we were wrapping up the taping, Curt Turner, the National Center communication manager, asked Dianne a simple question:  “What is it like to practice in geriatrics at Health Partners?’.  Her unrehearsed response is inspiring. 

Please use these videos for learning and teaching about the Right Team at the Right Time.