CHARLESTOWN — Michelle Kissinger says her greatest professional reward is seeing her elderly patients happy and safe, and living in their own homes.
A registered nurse for the past 10 years, Kissinger, who was born and raised in Westerly, works in care coordination for the outpatient primary care offices of the Northeast Medical Group in Stonington and Westerly. She recently opened her own business, Personalized Care Coordination, in Carolina.
“It’s in an effort to be their medical advocate, which is hopefully to keep them in their homes for as long as they want to be, can be, medically, with the highest quality of life,” she said. “I really manage that, but I manage their medical, if they happen to need services in the home such as home health aides. I help to coordinate all of that and I manage and monitor that care to make sure it’s appropriate.”
Kissinger said most of her experience has been with older patients, many of whom needed someone to oversee their health care.
“Health care is confusing and can be very intricate and a lot of people have a hard time with that,” she said. “When people go for care for an acute event, they’re sick or something like that, their expectation is that they get care for it. They’re in the hospital, they’re being monitored all the time. But what happens when they leave and they go home and they have to start managing all of these new things by themselves…and they’ve got to do this every day, most times by themselves with no help? There’s where my passion for what I do comes from, because I talk to so many people that are really struggling with trying to figure that out.”
One of the biggest issues, Kissinger said, involves medication.
“When family members are starting to see that Mom or Dad isn’t doing as well, usually it’s because of that, she said. “They’re not taking their medications properly, they’re maybe not picking them up at the pharmacy. They aren’t taking them. There’s a lot of confusion around that, so being able to manage all of that, especially if their doctors are changing medications, they have three different doctors and those doctors aren’t talking to one another. They’re just not connected and sometimes, there’s some overlap with some medications … Having me involved just keeps everybody on the same page.”
Kissinger also offers a USB bracelet to patients and family members containing a list of medications as well as personal information such as power of attorney.
“If they have to go to the hospital, the emergency room or a clinic, and I’m not there with them, there will be a med list saved on that bracelet,” she said.
Kissinger’s service also assists people who have just returned home from hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.
“Maybe it’s just short term,” she said. “Maybe somebody had hip surgery. They’re going to be going home. There’s going to be people coming in and out of the house. Med changes are going to happen during this time. Maybe they only need me for three months, just to kind of help them through this period.”
Kissinger described caring for others as a passion as well as a profession.
“I always wanted to be a nurse, and I do this because I love it,” she said. “I love to help people and having the opportunity to stay in your home or to live safely where you want to live is so satisfying to me.”
Kissinger can be contacted at 401-360-4242 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.