Louise, age 83, and her daughter, Kelly, met Kathy Swanson, RN, Lifespark Life Manager, under unusual circumstances—a routine flu shot. According to Kathy, referrals to Lifespark are more often triggered by a new diagnosis, illness, or injury; in Louise’s case, it was a request for an in-home flu shot. That meeting was life-changing for both mother and daughter.
Sequence of events
As recently as 2019, Louise was still working and living on her own, but after developing diverticulitis and a perforated colon, she started showing signs of cognitive impairment. Her daughter Kelly sold her mother’s condo and moved her into her home. Then Louise fell and broke her hip. “After Mom got out of the TCU, I was thinking about finding a new practitioner for her—someone who specialized in geriatric care,” Kelly said.
Around that time, Kelly contacted North Memorial Health about scheduling an in-home flu shot to minimize exposing her mother to COVID-19. Through the referral to Lifespark, she and Louise met Kathy and learned about Lifespark COMPLETETM. “What attracted me to the program was having doctor visits, imaging, blood work, anything non-invasive, brought right to our home,” Kelly said. Louise gladly signed up for Lifespark COMPLETE with Kathy as her Life Manager.
Life in the balance
Two months later, in January 2022, Louise started experiencing severe blood pressure dysregulation (abnormal swings in blood pressure). She was hospitalized and successfully treated, but a week after being discharged, she tested positive for COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Kelly immediately contacted Kathy. Louise was having trouble breathing but refused to be hospitalized or intubated. Because she was a Lifespark COMPLETE member, Louise had access to services like Acute Care @ Home (ACH) which provides hospital-level services right from home. Kathy coordinated with the ACH team, but Louise’s health continued to deteriorate.
The day her mother’s oxygen saturation level dropped to 40% was Kelly’s worst. “I called Kathy, and when she asked me, ‘How are you?’ the floodgates opened. I told her, ‘My mom is dying and the EMTs came, but she won’t go to the hospital,’” Kelly said. At Kathy’s suggestion, Louise was able to seamlessly go on hospice with Lifespark Hospice. “Almost like magic, all these resources arrived—a hospital bed, medication, supplies, hospice nurses, and private-pay caregivers to give her nutrition, fluids, and oxygen,” Kelly said.
Over the next six weeks, Louise became progressively weaker, until one day, the hospice nurse pulled Kelly aside. “She told me that for most people at this stage, it was a matter of hours, but for my mom, it would probably be a few days—that’s how tough she is,” Kelly said.
Forty-eight hours later, at 2:00 AM, Louise sat up in bed, took the nasal cannula out of her nose, and said to her daughter, “I think I’m better now.”
Kelly turned to her mother and asked what she wanted to do. “Mom said, ‘Let’s watch Golden Girls.’ So that’s what we did. We sat on the couch and watched Golden Girls until 5:00 AM.”
Better than before
Once Louise’s diagnosis changed, she was able to discharge from Lifespark Hospice. Since then, Kathy has seen her health steadily improve. “Her O2 sats are now in the 90s from a low of 40, her pulse rate is normal, her anemia has resolved, her lung capacity is even better than before she got COVID—and she never had to spend a single day in the hospital,” Kathy said. “Whenever we talk on the phone, Louise laughs and smiles and tells me that she’s back to walking 30 minutes a day.”
As for Kelly, she’s grateful for Lifespark’s 24/7 availability and ongoing support. “Lifespark enabled this continuing miracle,” she said. “It really is a complete experience.”