Nurse Sara Perszyk visits with Kailea, Kimberly and Mystic Johnson.

Nurse Sara Perszyk visits with Kailea, Kimberly and Mystic Johnson at Empath Health.

Grateful for Giving

A light of warmth and joy, Kailea Johnson smiles and greets a special member of her Empath Home Health team, staff RN Sara Perszyk, during a visit at Empath Health this past holiday season. Kailea, 10, and her beloved mom, Kimberly, and dog, Mystic, stopped by to pick up toys for the family purchased through our teen volunteers’ Adopt-A-Family program.

“Hi”, says Kailea as Sara enters the room and scoots side-by-side with her on the couch. Soon everyone starts checking out Kailea’s new stuffed toy puppies tucked inside a pink plaid carrier and the many other gifts. Touched by the thoughtfulness and generosity, Kimberly later shared, “The toys, including those for Mystic, gift cards, stockings with lip balms, notepads and many other everyday items were amazing. They made it awesome for us.”

Skilled Care

Kailea mostly communicates through sign language and lives with a metabolic disorder. She has been in medical care since she was a baby, including services at home from our Partners in Care (PIC) partner and most recently Empath Home Health. Our team works closely with her Tampa General Hospital physician and has come to her home every other week providing infusions and respite, giving her family breaks to tend to their needs. Additional Reiki therapy with a specially-trained volunteer may also be incorporated in to her care for added relaxation and comfort.

Kailea and Mystic play with new toys.

Kailea and Mystic play together.

“We used to go to the hospital every other week for the infusions and now have them done at home. They help with Kailea’s pain a lot and have made our lives a whole lot easier. We have some of the sweetest nurses. No matter what they’re doing, they’re so patient with Kailea. In the past, we also had one woman come out to do Reiki sessions and she had this soothing effect on Kailea. I’m excited to try it again,” said Kimberly, who has the same metabolic condition as her only child.

One team nurse who has delivered compassionate care to the family throughout the years is pediatric LPN Crystal Stouffer. “We’ve had Crystal intermittently in our lives and she has watched Kailea grow and change. She even took sign language classes to work with her families. Crystal has been so wonderful, nurturing and problem solving with Kailea and her complex care needs. She has gone above and beyond. I have such appreciation for her care,” Kimberly said.

Education and Support

Another longtime team nurse in their lives is Sara. She has worked in pediatric hospice and palliative care for our Suncoast Hospice and Empath Health for the past 14 years. The family has benefited immensely from her expertise and support. She has taught them extensively about infusions, nutrition and living well.

Kailea makes new friend, Geeta Gulati, patient care team assistant for Empath Health pediatric services.

“We’ve known Sara forever. Over the years she has helped guide us in what’s healthy. Sara’s a phenomenal resource with a wealth of information. She’s the voice of reason, the voice of sanity and the fixer. She somehow improves life every time,” Kimberly said.

One Awesome Girl

It’s an exciting day for Kailea venturing out with our Empath Health staff during the gift-giving visit. For some time, she was able to get out and enjoy aquatic and equine therapies. Now, her life’s concentrated mostly on her care, however she does go to school twice a week when she can and spends time with Mystic and on her iPad at home, says Kimberly.

“Kailea has a great personality and loves people. She’s so happy and positive. I’m really lucky I have her. She’s a super, cool kid.”

National Patient Week

Kailea’s one of the many patients we’re honored to care for and highlight during National Patient Recognition Week this week.

If you’re caring for a loved one with an advanced, complex illness at home and need support, please check out our website for more information on our Empath Home Health services.