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Nurse determined to save patient from unsafe living conditions

March 03, 2020

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Lisa Leas, LPN, delivers a Valentine's Day gift to the patient.

Lisa Leas, LPN, delivers a Valentine's Day gift to the patient.

Soon after joining WellSpan Internal Medicine – Washington Street, Health Coach and Licensed Practical Nurse Lisa Leas came across a patient in desperate need of help.

The patient was living in a run-down home without a working toilet or shower, a two-to-three-foot hole in the home exposing him to the conditions outside, limited water supply, and hadn’t washed his clothes or showered in years. In addition, he was living with serious health concerns.

Lisa was determined to rescue him from this situation. After establishing a relationship with him, she made hundreds of phone calls to different agencies in the community to seek services to help the patient out.  Some services were beneficial but sadly, there didn’t seem to be anything that could be done to greatly impact his living condition.

“No human being should ever have to live like that,” Leas said. “I’ve seen for myself how he fell through the cracks – if there isn’t someone out there like us, they’ll never get help.”

A few months went by, and then Lisa got a call from the patient who was short of breath and in grave condition. He initially refused an ambulance due to the bills, but after Lisa begged him to accept help, he allowed her to call emergency services.

“I would’ve gotten him myself if I could,” Lisa explained. “It puts a panic in you. It’s like they are right beyond your fingertips, but you can’t touch them.”

The patient was transferred to receive care at WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital, where he quickly became a favorite patient of the staff. He eventually began to trust his care team, and even allowed them to cut his 12-inch ponytail.

Soon after the patient was discharged from the hospital, he came to the practice to follow up and Lisa noticed that he was lacking certain necessities. She purchased him an electric razor, hat, gloves, snacks, and more from her own pocket.

Lisa was determined to make sure that the patient did not have to go back to his home after he was discharged. She worked feverishly with a social worker to find adequate placement.  Thankfully, placement was found at a full-time facility, and the local transport company was contacted so that he could continue to get needed care from Lisa at her office.

“Lisa cares for patients as though they are her own relatives,” said Jaime Bowen, Clinical Nursing Coordinator of the same practice. “She really goes the extra step to make sure they are not only provided for, but happy and content in their situation. She keeps that close contact with them to make sure they are still doing well.”

Lisa and the patient remain in contact to this day, and she even surprised him and the other residents at the assisted living home with a Valentine’s Day gifts.

He was looking forward to enjoying his first Thanksgiving meal in about 10-20 years. But what he was especially excited about is being able to turn the heat on during these cold winter months.

Lisa told him, “Buddy, you can turn that heat on whenever you want to now.”

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