As the youngest of 19 children, Deloise Jenkins grew up caring for others. “I took care of my older sisters and brothers when they got sick; I was the Old Mother Hubbard!” exclaims Deloise, who was born in Alabama, and has lived in Ohio since she was a teenager.
That helping spirit has remained throughout Deloise’s adulthood, leading her and her husband, Kenzie, to become foster parents, and she estimates they cared for 75 to 100 children over 24 years. They also adopted and raised two siblings whose mother was drug addicted. However, when Deloise’s medical issues became challenging, it was Deloise who needed some extra help. She suffers from heart failure, diabetes mellitus, connective tissue disorder, low ejection fraction (20 percent at time of program enrollment) and relies on a pacemaker/defibrillator. In addition, she takes a variety of medications, including Metformin for her diabetes.
The help Deloise received for her chronic health conditions was through Medtronic Care Management Services’ (MCMS) remote patient monitoring program, provided by SummaCare.
How the program works
With the program, patients are able to complete routine health checks without having to leave home and receive support from Medtronic Patient Advocacy and Support (PASS) nurses as needed. Says Deloise, “I get up every morning and check my blood sugar, then I go in and I do my health check. It takes about ten minutes.” The remote monitoring program takes Deloise through a series of questions, such as whether she had breathing problems during the night, and whether she missed any doses of medications. She explains, “I put in my blood sugar numbers, and then I put on my blood pressure cuff. It tells me what my heart rate is, and I get on a scale and it tells me whether I've gained weight.” From there, Deloise’s answers and health data are sent to MCMS’ clinical monitoring software, where data trends are available to the PASS nurse.
For their part, the PASS nurses are alerted by the software if the patient falls outside of established thresholds. The clinical software interface allows nurses to quickly see what caused the alert and review patient data trends, then contact the patient and escalate issues to their care team if needed. Nurses also play a role as educators, helping patients better understand their condition and sharing ways to make better lifestyle and diet choices.
Addressing issues before they worsen
In 2019, nurse Sara Wheeler reviewed Deloise’s data and noticed her blood pressure was dropping to ranges below those set by her doctor. Sara informed Deloise’s cardiologist, who then made a medication change that resolved the issue.
Another time, Sara saw that Deloise’s blood glucose was not under control. “She was having a terrible time monitoring her blood sugars because her fingers were calloused from finger sticks,” explains Sara. “I spoke with Deloise’s doctor about alternate approaches to monitoring blood glucose levels based on her treatment plan. Her doctor prescribed a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device that would monitor her blood glucose throughout the day without her having to prick her fingers.”
Within a couple of weeks, Deloise received the CGM, and with Sara’s coaching began using it. “It’s been a game-changer for her,” says Sara. Deloise’s new PASS nurse, Heather Burke, who recently took over Deloise’s care agrees: “Both her blood pressure and her blood glucose have been within the ranges set by her doctor , but we still check in on her with courtesy calls to let her know we’re here to support her.”
PASS nurses don’t just focus on symptoms or conditions however, they take a holistic look at a patient’s lifestyle, encouraging healthy choices to extend and improve their lives. In this case, Sara worked with Deloise on her eating habits to help stabilize her blood sugar and Deloise qualified for meal delivery services from Canton Akron Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities. “Sara explained the importance of making sure I do the right thing for my health; she’s very helpful in answering my questions. She educates me about my symptoms when I feel dizzy; she encourages me.”
Providing a comforting presence
The monitoring program and her stabilized health has enabled Deloise to enjoy walks at a local lake over the summer and to help others at her church when it was not closed due to the pandemic. The program also brings her peace of mind as COVID-19 continues to spread. “I really only go to three stores, and most of the time I’m staying at home, but knowing my condition every day has been a blessing. Knowing that if something is not looking right, the nurse is going to call me. If needed, she is going to send it to my doctor’s office. This is comforting.”
Deloise says working with Sara, and now Heather, has been so helpful. “They’re good listeners. It feels good to have someone there for me. I’ve always been the type of person who’s been there for other people. You don’t find too many people who have compassion and are willing to look at your needs.”
Medtronic Care Management Services is not intended as a substitute for, or alternative to, the medical care provided by a physician. Medical guidance and treatment decisions should always be determined by treating physicians or other properly licensed healthcare professionals.