As private duty nurses, Mindy Kring and Diana McNulty develop special bonds with their patients – some of whom they’ve taken care of for multiple years, like 10-year-old Reid. For most of his life, Reid’s parents have relied on private duty home care nurses to help them care for their son who has Emanuel Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that disrupts normal development and affects many parts of his body.
“Due to Emanuel Syndrome, Reid has profound intellectual disabilities, weak muscle tone, is nonverbal and can’t walk or eat by mouth,” said Reid’s mom, Rachel.
Rachel said Akron Children’s private duty nurses have been a lifesaver for her family, especially when no daycare facility would take Reid due to his complex medical needs.
“It gives us peace of mind that Reid is with nurses who look after him so well and can spot when something is wrong while we’re at work,” she said.
Two of the nurses who have been constants in Reid’s life are Mindy, who has been with Reid for almost 10 years and Diana, who has cared for him for 8 years.
“They know everything about him and care for him as if he was their own son,” said Rachel. “They can sense when something is off and what needs to be done to make him feel better or get him the necessary treatment.”
Mindy, who has been a private duty nurse for 13 years, said she enjoys her work taking care of the same patients and providing continuity of care.
“Having our patients and families in familiar surroundings helps to decrease their stress and allows us to focus solely on their needs,” she said.
“Home care patients can thrive in a loving, healthy and nurturing home,” said Diana, who has worked private duty for 25 years. “I’m always striving to listen, be observant and provide the best care possible.”
Mindy and Diana’s duties include everything from preparing and administering Reid’s G-tube feeds and medications to providing ordered therapies and helping with activities of daily living like bathing, grooming and dressing.
Diana said some of the highlights of her day are seeing Reid smile and reach out for her when she wakes him up for school each morning or tucking him in at night with his special doll.
“Since Reid isn’t verbal or ambulatory, he has his own ways of expressing himself through his noises and mannerisms. We call this the ‘Reidster’ language,” said Diana. “Happy or not, he lets us know in his own way.”
“Reid loves when you sing to him. I’ve taught him to give me ‘5’ which means he wants me to sing. His favorite song is B-I-N-G-O. The sillier I am, the more he laughs,” said Mindy.
When Reid was recently hospitalized, Mindy went to visit him.
“He was so sick, hooked up to multiple IVs and machines. He looked so little and frail in that big bed,” said Mindy. “But he still remembered if I give Mindy ‘5’ she will sing to me. And you better believe I sang my heart out.”
Rachel said Diana has been a lifesaver throughout the school year as she helps with getting Reid ready for school in the morning and getting the 4th grader onto the bus.
“This is such a help to our family as my husband and I both need to start work before Reid goes to school,” she said.
Diana has also been trained to do Reid’s IVIG subcutaneous infusion at home, eliminating the need for the family to spend one day a month in the hospital’s infusion center.
“Mindy is amazing at getting Reid up and moving. She makes him work and exercise to earn time on his iPad,” said Rachel. “This could mean taking him for walks in the driveway or yard in his stroller/wheelchair or getting him to do his physical therapy exercises.”
Mindy also helps keep Reid’s supplies organized and alerts Rachel when medical supplies need to be ordered.
“Removing this type of detail from my worries is such a big help,” said Rachel.
Rachel said in addition to the wonderful care they provide, Mindy and Diana’s presence in their home has benefited the family in other ways, too.
“They have helped us avoid missed days at work when Reid is sick. Since they know him so well, they can detect when something is off allowing me to quickly make appointments with specialists instead of making a trip to the ED,” she said.
“They’ve also been a huge help when they’re available to watch Reid in the evenings and weekends so we can attend Reid’s siblings’ baseball and soccer games, she added.
Without Mindy, Diana, the family’s other home care providers and Reid’s doctors, Rachel said that Reid would not be the happy kid he is today.
“It takes a village to raise a kid like Reid and we’re so happy that we live near the hospital and can invite everyone at Akron Children’s to be part of Reid’s village,” she said.
For more information about private duty and home care nursing at Akron Children’s, visit akronchildrens.org.