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UNITED WAY Health care with a heart, at home



Published: Sun, November 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way is nearing the end of its 2001 financial campaign.

By WILLIAM K. ALCORN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- Laura Ochman and Julie Modarelli are friends who have a standing appointment to see each other at least once a week.

They are also patient and nurse.

Ochman, 70, of Canfield has been legally blind since she was 38 and totally blind for 10 years. She lives with numerous health concerns, including diabetes, heart problems and the residual effects of a stroke 10 years ago.

Modarelli, with the Visiting Nurse Association for 21 years, is Ochman's case manager. Modarelli stops in once, sometimes twice, a week to see how Ochman is doing, prepare her medications and meet other medical needs.

Sally Garcia from VNA also provides home-care services for Ochman, such as helping her shower, three times a week.

"I really appreciate that," Ochman said. "I call her Miss Sally."

Modarelli checks Ochman's heart and lungs, blood pressure and medications. She fills syringes so Ochman can self-medicate for diabetes.

Bonding: During the home visits, they talk about families, world affairs and whatever.

"I'd say we are friends," Ochman said. "We get along very, very well. She is very compassionate and thorough. I have recommended VNA to anyone who needs home service," she said.

"I've had just about every nurse in the place at one time or another, and I haven't found one I can be disagreeable with," Ochman said.

Modarelli says Ochman has a "wonderful sense of humor.

"When I get depressed, I think there is someone else who has it a lot worse. Be thankful for what you have," Ochman said.

Style of work: Modarelli is one of about 20 nurses working for VNA of Greater Youngstown, a nonprofit agency funded by the United Way. She is a case manager for numerous clients and sees about five patients each day.

Modarelli, who previously worked at St. Elizabeth Health Center after graduating from its school of nursing, said she likes the one-on-one contact with patients, the independence and the variety she gets working for VNA.

"You get to know patients better than in other areas of nursing," she said.

VNA has 175 clients who get regular visits from nurses and home-care providers in the Youngstown area.

Purpose: VNA was founded in 1904 as a volunteer organization to provide health education to the community and skilled nursing care to the sick regardless of ability to pay. In 1966, VNA was certified as a home health agency to care for patients under the then-new Medicare program, and in 1986 VNA began accepting clients who require maintenance of intravenous equipment.

VNA, 518 E. Indianola Ave., has an annual budget of about $1.6 million; the United Way provides about 4 percent of that. Through the financial assistance of United Way, VNA is able to supplement programs and provide services to more clients in the community, said Suzanne Tucci, VNA executive director.

The Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way is nearing the end of its 2001 financial campaign. As of today, 37 percent of UW's $3,202,000 goal had been reached. The campaign is scheduled to conclude Nov. 30, but will probably be extended because of the late start caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said JoAnn Stock, UW campaign and marketing director.

alcorn@vindy.com




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