Home health care: making independence possible

RN Barb Redig with Jim Gardner. Photo by Kacey Ginn

Rural Iowa is an area with a high population of older citizens. Wright is one of several counties in north central Iowa where 20 percent of the population 65 or older. This means that many rural Iowans are facing health and mobility issues they may not have worried about when they were younger.

For some, living in a care facility or with family may be the right option. But for others, their happiest and healthiest life could be lived at home. Wright County Public Health has been doing home health care in one form or another since the 1930s. Currently, they see close to 150 clients in different home visitation programs.

Some take part in a home visit program just because they know they need a certain amount of help to stay in their home, which may include weekly or more frequent skilled nurse home visits, personal care services, or some help with light housekeeping.

One of these clients is Jim Gardner, a man who, because of a car accident at age 20, wasn’t able to live independently for close to 36 years. Gardner’s accident left him wheelchair-bound and with the full use of only one arm. From 2005 to 2016, he lived in a care center; before that, he lived with his family. Since April 2016, however, he’s been able to live on his own with some help from Wright County Public Health.

“He came home with a lot of challenges and we were willing to work with that,”said Barb Redig, the RN who performs regular medical visits for Gardner at his apartment in the Southtown complex in Clarion.

Though Gardner was aware there would be difficulties in caring for himself, he was determined to be independent anyway.

“I’m a stubborn person,” Gardner said. “I’ve always been stubborn, before the accident and after the accident. I do things in my own way.”


For the full story, see the May 18 edition of the Monitor.