Written by Lisa Tortorello
West Orange Resident Melissa Garfield has a long history overseeing home care patients’ needs, having spent 20 years of her 36-year nursing career working in this field.
As Clinical Supervisor for Barnabas Health Home Care located in West Orange, Garfield uses this experience to supervise home care nurses and organize care to more than 500 patients, which often involves coordinating care among various disciplines and troubleshooting potential care issues to prevent re-hospitalizations.
“Many of our patients have chronic illnesses that, in the past, have necessitated frequent trips to the hospital," Garfield said. "We facilitate the patient’s goal of remaining in the comfort of their own home. Nurses deliver direct care, provide education and explore other resources that may be available to achieve this goal."
Garfield oversees the Cardiac Home Monitoring Program that provides simple-to-use yet high-tech equipment in patients’ homes to monitor their vital signs 365 days per year as a way to help achieve this goal.
“If a patient presents with a complex case, I may have to coordinate rehab therapists, dietitians, social workers and nurses in order to make a cohesive plan for delivering patient care," Garfield said. "My goal is to do whatever it takes to improve patient outcomes and keep the patient out of the hospital."
After joining Barnabas Health Home Care six years ago, Garfield developed a special interest in community outreach initiatives to educate the public about home care.
“I found there was a lack of awareness about the important services home care nurses provide and the degree of illness among some of our patients," Garfield said. "Part of my job is to change some of the misconceptions out there and help the public understand our role in health care."
Garfield participates in education sessions and workshops, including “What’s in Your Bag?” seminars for older adults in the community. This program encourages seniors to bring their medications with them so they can be reviewed by a pharmacist, home care liaison and visiting nurse. Together, these healthcare professionals discuss medication management with seniors, including advising them on the correct dosage and schedules to result in the best possible outcomes.
Garfield earned a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., where she completed a rotation in home care and became interested in the field.
“I really enjoyed home care and thought it was an interesting, autonomous kind of nursing,” Garfield said, who worked in orthopedics, the emergency room and the ICU before taking a hiatus from nursing. “When I came back to nursing, I realized home care was the only thing I wanted to do – to me, nothing is as challenging or as rewarding.”
Barnabas Health Home Care offers patients the ability to recover from a serious illness or manage continued health needs in the place where they are most comfortable – their home. Our professionals work closely with each individual’s health care team to ensure recovery and/or wellness goals are being met. Through patient and family education and communication, Home Care staff members become partners in each patient’s health care plan to ensure the illness and treatment plan are fully understood and to encourage and coach compliance. Its programs, which serve patients of all ages, focus on the assisting the individual in achieving and maintaining the highest possible level of wellness and independence. For more information, please visit www.homehealthnj.com.