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Nick Thrives at Home

Nick has an incredible sense of humor. You can see it in his infectious smile as mom, Bernadette, lines up his Bullwinkle toy to playfully shoot a ball at PHS respiratory therapist, Mary Wightman.  As it sails across the kitchen, his big grin and laughs say it all – at 26, Nick is thriving at home.

Learning about PHS

Nick, Bernadette and Steve enjoy the TwinsWhen their son was born with cerebral palsy and other medical complexities, Bernadette and her husband, Steve, were told their son wouldn’t live very long. That was at a time when home care wasn’t a common option.

However, they moved to Minnesota when Nick was 7 and after enduring 13 hospitalizations during their first year here, they soon learned about Pediatric Home Service.

“He has been with PHS since he was a child, and they continue to care for him into his adulthood,” says Bernadette. “PHS has made this transition from youth to adolescence and adulthood very smooth, with a continuity of care and a continuity of services.”

Coordinated Care for Best Care

Nick gets some fresh air outsideUnable to maintain a number of body functions including breathing, Nick can’t speak or eat due to a tracheal diversion, has limited movement of his arms or legs, and will always need a vent. Additional diagnoses such as autonomic dysreflexia, cortico blindness, seizure disorder and osteoporosis, means continuity of care and consistent, high level communication between caregivers is crucial.

Recently, the team has been taking steps to reduce his infections and over the years, his nutrition has been consistently monitored by his dietitian to ensure proper nourishment. Thanks to the fact that he can get his respiratory therapy, infusion nursing & pharmacy, home care nursing, and nutrition through the same company, everyone is on the same page for his care plan.Nick enjoys the snow with nurse Ebie

“Having his team at one company is a huge benefit to Nick and his family because it helps coordinate that care enormously. We are all on the same page,” says Mary Wightman.

Adds his private duty nurse, Stephani Green, “If we have issues with Nick, we’ll have a care conference in the house, so case managers are there, his respiratory therapist, dietitian, all the nurses and can come in and discuss specifically his issues and go from there. It’s really good for him.”

Living a Full Life

It’s clear to anyone who meets him that Nick – or Ironman, as his family calls him – is a happy, courageous man living life to the fullest. He loves pets like his dog, Jazz, and his brother’s lizard, Wildfire.  He participates in activities like Meals on Wheels and attends Twins games at Target Field.

Nick dresses up at his work programThanks to consistent nursing in the home, Bernadette and Steve can rely on PHS to help bring him to a work program where he interacts with others. While they previously had never had a child or adult at the program with a tracheostomy, vent or accompanying nurse, they allowed him to come to the program, where he has been for four years now.


“Nick is a trailblazer,” says Bernadette. “He has a joy about him, a spirit about him that teaches what is important in life. The importance is love of family and friends, laughter.”

“Despite all his physical hindrances,” adds Steve, “Nick is a happy, spirited, wonderful son. I’m glad he’s my son. I love him very much.”

And we’re happy he’s home with family.

Catch up with Nick in this blog post! 




Originally published: October 25, 2013