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Home Care Nurse Goes Out of Her Way for Patient

When Richard Kunie, 79, left Hackensack University Medical Center aftera month-long stay due to open-heart, double-bypass surgery, he was terrified. He decided to stay with his daughter, Lisa Duhigg, in Howell, New Jersey, so there was always someone there to help take care of him.

That was a great decision because it also meant he was in the home care territory of Jeanne Figliolia, RN, a nurse with Hackensack Meridian At Home.

The first time Jeanne arrived at Lisa’s home, she put everyone at ease. They didn’t know what to expect, nor did they really know exactly how to care for Richard at home. “Jeanne was just so full of energy and took charge right away,” says Lisa. “She talked us all through every part of every process. She didn’t just change a bandage, for example. She told us why and how she was doing it, so eventually we could do much of his care ourselves.”

As part of his treatment, Richard’s doctors sent him home with a continuous infusion pump to relax the blood vessels in his muscles to help them dilate, lowering his blood pressure and allowing blood to flow more freely through his veins and arteries. One day while Lisa’s sons Anthony and Joseph were home with Richard, his pump started to act up, and they became frightened by the sound coming from the machine. “The alarm kept beeping, and they thought maybe he was going to have a heart attack,” says Lisa.

Anthony and Joseph immediately called Jeanne on FaceTime, and she reassured them that it wasn’t a heart attack—it was a bad battery. Then she carefully walked them through each step to swap the old battery with a new one. “Jeanne truly goes above and beyond for her patients,” Lisa says.

When Richard eventually moved back into his own house in Old Bridge, New Jersey, in late 2019, he was no longer in Jeanne’s territory. But because Richard had grown so fond of Jeanne, he begged her to continue his care, and now she travels to treat him. “I couldn’t say, ‘No,’” she says. “Richard and his family have become an extension of my own.”

Q&A With Jeanne Figliolia, RN

What drew you to this career?

When I was 13, my mother and I were at a wedding, and a woman started choking. My mom was my Girl Scouts leader, so she knew how to perform CPR. I saw her save this woman’s life, and I was amazed. All I could think was, ‘I want to save somebody’s life one day.’

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

I love that we can keep people in their own homes, with their family and where they feel most settled. We can do almost anything in a patient’s home. I think they’re able to heal when they’re most comfortable, surrounded by the people they love.

Tell us about a team member at Hackensack Meridian Health who made all the difference in your care.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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