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Ann's Team - A Collective Approach

NVNA and Hospice clinical team members with a former patient
Ann Rossino with her clinical team, from left: Kelly Pfundstein, PT; Caitlin Carroll, RN; and Lisa Feingold, OT

“Aren’t we lucky?” Those words are something of a refrain for Ann and Sam Rossino. They could mean many things by this: lucky to have a 41-year marriage and two children, to have family and friends nearby, to live on the beautiful South Shore. But there’s something more to it.

In April 2019, Ann suffered a ruptured cerebral aneurysm and was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital. She spent five weeks in the ICU after surgery to repair the aneurysm, along with two others that had yet to burst. Then came another five-week stay at a rehabilitation facility. Ann had visitors every day, whether Sam, son Greg, or daughter Katy. All the while, a sticky note hung on a wall calendar to mark the day she would finally be able to return home.

NVNA and Hospice clinical team members with a former patient
Ann in her greeting card workshop

When that day finally came, Ann was met with the support of NVNA and Hospice clinicians Caitlin Carroll, RN, Kelly Pfundstein, PT, and Lisa Feingold, OT. “NVNA and Hospice was unbelievable,” Ann says. “They were recommended to us as they had particular expertise with aneurysm patients. The reason I am where I am today is because of them.”

Says Kelly, “This was a collective approach. Caitlin, Lisa, and I were in constant dialogue with Ann’s physician team, and then we took the lead on her care when she was ready to come home. I think what helped enormously in Ann’s recovery was her commitment. If she feels lucky to have been under our care, we feel just as lucky to have witnessed her determined spirit.”

“I love the fact that with home care, you’re in your own environment. NVNA and Hospice reintroduced me to my home—and taught me how to live there again.”

- Ann Rossino

Understanding Ann’s path to recovery starts with an awareness of the volatile brain attack she survived. “The brain is an extraordinary machine, and although there is still constant research on aneurysms, we know a lot,” Lisa remarks. “Are there limitations? Of course. But with consistency of care, the brain can begin to restore and heal.”

Between relearning to walk outdoors on uneven surfaces, rebuilding the brain-body connection with eye work or drawing exercises, and creating a safe setting in which to live at home, Ann and her care team steadily created what she calls her “new normal” over the course of roughly seven weeks. Ann states, “To think that their job, their mission, is to go into homes and make sure that someone’s quality of life is going to be better every single day? It’s amazing.”

Sam and Ann Rossino

Today, Ann plays Mah-Jongg three days a week, enjoys listening to music whenever possible, and makes handmade greeting cards for family and friends, all of which she says has been wonderful for her mind. She and Sam still continue to attend NVNA and Hospice’s monthly brain aneurysm support group, where they find comfort in sharing anecdotes and perspectives with other survivors.

We offer this group as a way for survivors to gather and know they are not alone in their experience. It is an honor to continue to be a part of the Rossinos' inspiring story.”

- Bernadette Ward, brain aneurysm support group facilitator and Director, Pat Roche Hospice Home

“An aneurysm is like a roller coaster without a straight path to recovery,” Sam notes. “We were told that 50% of aneurysm patients do not survive the trip to the hospital, and of those who do, half do not survive the operation. But look at Ann now.” Lucky, indeed.

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