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'This is what we do': Nurses expand care for home health patients amid coronavirus

NURA Pain Management Clinic made a decision to offer home care to people who need it, regardless of ability to pay.

We've been hearing a lot about our doctors and nurses on the front lines during the coronavirus crisis, but there are many of these good people doing important work that isn't connected to coronavirus; at least it wasn't, until now.

"I've been doing it for 44 years," said Ruth Vercheck. As a nurse, she's always been a helper. Her job now at NURA Pain Management Clinic is to get severe chronic pain patients the meds they need.

"We have people that are quarantined in nursing homes that cant get out to get their pump fills, we have patients that are in the hospital for one reason or another so we are doing a lot of additional visits over what we typically do to accommodate these patients," Vercheck said.

We're talking end of life patients, cancer patients, patients with severe spinal issues. Even with all of that, most of Nura Clinic's clients come into the clinic for services, as they cannot afford home health care.

"A lot of these patients don't have insurance that will cover it. Medicare will not cover it. A lot of our patients are medicare patients," Vercheck said.

So NURA made a decision: to offer that home care to folks who need it regardless of ability to pay.

"When they called me it honestly brought tears to my eyes," said Brenda Strandmark, who not only has severe chronic pain, she's at high risk for COVID-19. "I have a compromised immune system, I have lung-involved issues, I've had collapsed lung, shortness of breath on the regular, so if I had to go in there, and go into the public, and go into the office, with my immune system, generally I pick up every bug around."

"It is a blessing that they came out to help me," she said.

Why is this a big deal? If patients like Brenda don't get the meds they need, it can lead to a strain on our already strained medical system.

"We keep them out of the emergency room, out of the primary care doctor's office, out of the hospital and we prevent them from overdosing on opioids," said Dr. David Schultz with NURA Pain Management Clinic.

Ruth is one of three, soon to be four, nurses at Nura speically trained for in-home visits. They are taking all the necessary precautions to protect themselves and patients, but she knows she is taking a risk by putting herself out there, she says she wouldn't have it any other way.

"Nurses do this, this is what we do," Vercheck said.

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