Honoring A Son’s Legacy

Jamaica hospital hospice One day in 2016, Jacqueline Messina received a phone call no mother wants to receive.  Her son Anthony was in the ICU and she needed to come to Jamaica Hospital.

When she arrived she couldn’t believe her eyes. Anthony was sedated and on a ventilator. He was not the 24-year-old boisterous young man she knew; he was unresponsive. While they hoped and prayed daily with Father Andre that he would wake up and return to his family after rehabilitation, the prognosis grew worse as the days past.  His brain injuries were escalating versus improving.  The hospital’s Palliative Care team came to visit her in the ICU and she completely went silent.  Jacqueline had no idea what the words “palliative care” even meant.

“It was an extremely difficult moment for our family. Who anticipates palliative and hospice care? We sat his brothers down and explained the next steps, but in our hearts, we were still confused about how his life was ending, a parent never imagines this.” One additional factor was Anthony’s grandmother.  “They were so close and she was diagnosed with breast cancer the day of his accident,” shared Jacqueline.  “I remember us trying to be strong for her despite my heart breaking because I was worried about how losing Anthony would affect her health and upcoming treatment.”

“I am not sure we could have endured this experience on our own. Thankfully we had the support of everyone on Jamaica Hospital’s hospice unit. They did so much to help my husband and boys as well as Anthony’s grandmother. They made sure the rest of our family and friends were well cared for,” she said.

Hours before his passing, Anthony was admitted to Jamaica Hospital’s Ferrara Family Center for Hospice Care after being transferred from the ICU.  Jacqueline did not know what to expect,   “I was anxious at first.  I must have asked a million questions.”

Jacqueline’s anxieties subsided when she was greeted by a warm staff that addressed her concerns and treated her with compassion. They ensured her that Anthony was in good hands and they would do everything they could to make him comfortable. “The level of service we received was outstanding. The staff did more than what was needed during his time with us and after. They were amazing,” said Jacqueline.

Jamaica Hospital Hospice

Jacqueline Messina

The staff’s devotion to Anthony and his family inspired Jacqueline to give back. She donates to the hospice every year in honor of her son’s legacy.  “When Anthony died, I wanted to make sure others had the same comfort that he did.  This is why I work hard every year to accumulate volunteer hours of which my company Bloomberg L.P.  converts into funds for charity.  The program is called “Dollars for Your Hours” and I proudly support the Ferrara Family Center for Hospice Care with this gift,” shared Jacqueline.

The Ferrara Family for Hospice Care provides comfort care for those with life-limiting illnesses. Great pride is taken by their staff in providing patients and families with quality medical services as well as the emotional and spiritual support needed to help them through a challenging time.

To donate to the Ferrara Family Center for Hospice Care, please visit https://jamaicahospital.org/ways-to-give/

This October Jamaica Hospital Observes Health Literacy Month

You have just been diagnosed with a medical condition and your doctor provides you with detailed information about your condition, the cause and symptoms, as well as how to treat it. After leaving you realize that you didn’t quite understand everything that your doctor shared and you are confused about what to do next. This is a common occurrence that takes place between patients and healthcare professionals.

It has been well documented that many people face challenges when trying to comprehend the important health information being shared with them by their doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Failure to understand complex medical information could affect a patient’s health.

To address this issue, the month of October has been designated Health Literacy Month.  This global observation is intended to raise awareness about this issue and encourage individuals as well as organizations in the healthcare industry to promote the importance of creating ways to share health information in a way that is understandable to our patients.

This year’s Health Literacy Month theme is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” Jamaica Hospital is participating in this campaign by helping our patients and community improve their healthcare literacy by offering the following tips:

  • Ask questions – Then, make sure you get and understand the answers. If you don’t understand, ask the doctor or nurse for more information.
  • Repeat information back to your doctor or nurse – After your doctor or nurse gives you instructions, repeat them back in your own words.
  • Bring a pen and paper – Take the time to write instructions down so you can refer to them later.
  • Have another adult with you – This might be especially true when you expect to receive important information.
  • Ask for an interpreter – You have a right to an interpreter, at no cost to you. Tell your provider what language you prefer to communicate.

By following these tips, you can improve your health care literacy and improve your overall health.

The Importance of Knowing Your Family Medical History

family medical historyDiseases such as diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer are known to run in families.   Members of your family share certain genetic traits that can serve as clues in assessing your risk of developing hereditary diseases. That is why it is important to know your family’s medical history.

The more you know about your family’s medical history, the better. Try to gather as much information as you can from blood relatives. You can do so by reaching out and letting family members know why you are collecting this information.

When gathering your family’s medical history, there are a few key components you should include. They are:

  • Major medical issues and conditions  that run in the family
  • Age of onset ( When each member of your family was diagnosed with a medical condition)
  • Causes of death
  • Ethnic backgrounds ( Some ethnicities are more at risk for developing certain diseases than others)
  • Environment ( Families  may  share common environments that can have an impact on their health)

If you are unable to obtain this information from family members, documents such as death certificates may provide some answers.

Be sure to record information in a safe place and share it with other members of your family. You should also share the information collected with your doctor who may recommend screening tests for conditions you may be at risk for developing.

Although you cannot change your genetic makeup, knowing your family’s history can help you take the steps needed to reduce your risk of inherited diseases. If applicable, you can stop smoking, lose weight change your diet, exercise more frequently or reduce the amount of alcohol you consume to lower your risk.



Fall Allergies

Ever ask yourself, “Why are my allergies kicking up, it’s not spring or summer?”  The answer may be that if you are a warmer weather allergy sufferer, you will most likely be sensitive to allergens in the fall too.

While the fall season signals the beginning of cooler temperatures, it can be especially difficult for those who are sensitive to mold and ragweed pollen. If you are one of these people, symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and headaches can reoccur leaving you feeling miserable.

There are several things you can do to find relief. If symptoms are mild, try the following suggestions which may provide temporary relief:

  • Closing windows and doors at night or whenever ragweed counts are high
  • Trying over the counter remedies such as decongestants or antihistamines
  • Rinsing your eyes with a saline solution
  • Trying nasal irrigation
  • Taking steamy showers
  • Wearing a mask while doing yard work
  • Washing clothes and linens frequently
  • Using air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters
  • Keeping indoor air dry by using a dehumidifier
  • Thoroughly washing your face and hair when you get home

If your symptoms are continuous and affect your ability to carry out routine activities, you should speak with an allergist.  Your allergist will be able to help you identify what triggers your seasonal allergies and provide the best course of treatment to offer relief or stop symptoms.

The Division of Allergy and Immunology at Jamaica Hospital focuses on the diagnosis and long-term treatment of allergic and immunologic conditions. To schedule an appointment with an allergist, please call 718-206-7001.