Home Care is a Lifesaver for More than Just the Patient

Anne wasn’t sure her husband would ever come home again after his second stroke left him paralyzed on half his body. 

At age 71, Bill Birkhoff of Rancho Bernardo was confined to a wheelchair.“My daughter and I were looking into (skilled nursing) homes we could put him into because there was absolutely no way I could ever take care of him,” Anne said.

Anne came home from shopping one day two years ago to find Bill laying on the floor saying, “Stroke, stroke.”

“I panicked. I suffer from PTSD (now) because it was such a shock for me to find him in the condition he was in,” Anne said.

After rehabilitating for more than a month in the hospital, Bill was about to be discharged. Anne and her daughter were calling around to skilled nursing homes when a hospital worker brought up the idea of home care. Home care providers perform a litany of duties including cooking, cleaning and yard work, but their primary responsibility is to help the patient care for themselves so the rest of the family can live a normal life.

“Who wants to be 73 years old and changing your husband’s diapers?” Bill asks.

“I didn’t even realize they had such a thing,” Anne said. “To think that he could come home and be in his own home and we could be in the same bed together and someone would care for him every day was like a weight lifted off my chest.”

Bill is an avid stock market investor but he soon learned home care providers are not commodities (indistinguishable). The first company Bill and Anne chose promised to handle all the finances but they sent a home care worker who had a background in manufacturing. After three months of poor care, they called Palomar Health, the only hospital-based home care provider in San Diego County. Palomar Home Health Services maintains the high standards of hospital care in a home-based environment.

Image of Bill“We started getting people who were CNAs, who had experience in healthcare,” Bill said.

Soon after hiring Palomar Home Health Services, Jim Hines showed up at the door. Bill says there was an instant connection.

“He (Jim) has an advantage,” Bill said. “He has three boys. He knows how to handle me,” Bill said, the consummate joker.

Bill’s first goal when he got home was to be able to get out of his wheelchair. He was still suffering from paralysis and couldn’t walk on his own. Then his daughter announced she was getting married. Bill and Anne had waited for this moment for a long time and he wanted to walk her down the aisle. This became his biggest goal and it had a deadline.

Jim has become like part of the family, according to Bill and Anne. He gets Bill up and dressed in the morning, makes both of them breakfast, takes Anne to Mass and takes Bill to the gym most days where he continues to make progress.

“He’s the son I never had,” Ann says fighting back tears. “He does everything for us.”

The big day came Saturday, November 10, 2018. All the guests were seated to watch Bill and Anne’s daughter make that walk down the aisle to be married to her sweetheart. Jim was there standing by Bill’s side making sure his tie was straight and everything was perfect until the music began to play. Then Jim stepped aside while Bill walked his daughter down the aisle in one of the biggest moments of his life, weeping all the way.

Reflecting on his journey from wheelchair to walking his daughter down the aisle, Bill is effusive in his praise for the care he’s received from Jim and the other Palomar Home Health Services caregivers who help him seven days a week live a fulfilling life and relieve his burden of care from Anne. He’s also in rare form trying to jokingly convince Jim to move into his granny flat so he can care for them forever.

To learn more about Palomar Home Health Services, please visit our website


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