Easthampton home care business celebrates 30 years

  • Christine Moriarty, owner of Commonwealth Registry Of Nurses, at her home in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christine Moriarty, owner of Commonwealth Registry Of Nurses, at her home in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christine Moriarty, owner of Commonwealth Registry Of Nurses, at her home in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christine Moriarty, owner of Commonwealth Registry Of Nurses, at her home in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/20/2019 2:00:44 AM

EASTHAMPTON – In the 1980s, Christine Moriarty recognized a problem. Too many patients under the care of visiting nurses were not receiving the proper amount of support services required for rehabilitation. She decided to do something unheard of at the time.

Moriarty founded the Commonwealth Registry of Nurses in May 1989, a business dedicated to providing home care services by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants. Today, Moriarty’s home care business employs nearly 40 employees and they provide care from two to 24 hours of service. 

“Nobody knew what home care was because they had the VNA,” or Visiting Nurses Association, Moriarty said. “And they said, ‘what possibly could you bring to home care?’”

Before starting her own business, Moriarty worked for a now-defunct VNA in Easthampton where she saw first-hand the shortfalls of visiting nurses services. 

“I could see there were gaps in home care services,” Moriarty said. “You would go out and do a visit and you are providing that hour of service and then you leave. And the client and their family are overwhelmed, and they are like, ‘what’s going to happen next?’” 

Moriarty said she frequently saw families who needed help taking care of relatives who were fragile after surgeries. Many would often end up back in the emergency room due to inadequate professional support. 

The patients CRN cares for range in their health conditions. Some are recovering from minor surgeries and others are battling more serious health conditions. Ages of patients could range from mid-20s to those in their 90s, according to Moriarty. 

Some clients are recovering from hip surgeries and need assistance with bathing and some physical therapy to recover, Moriarty said. 

Sara Gross, of Florence, told the Gazette that her 95-year-old mother relies on CRN to continue living at home. 

“Christine and her company come to help with some chores, laundry, meals and helping her getting in and out of bed,” Gross said last week. She said her mother “always made it very clear that she wants to be in her home and stay there.” 

Nurses from CRN are at Gross’ mother’s home every day in Florence and have been since earlier this year. 

Other cases have different challenges.

A couple of years ago, CRN received a call from Albany Medical Center about a patient from Berkshire County. A woman with serious a health condition had been to many nursing facilities and none could take her in because of her medical complications, Moriarty said. 

“She was at the end of her life and the family wanted her to come home,” Moriarty said. After requesting the patient’s medical history, which totaled well over 40 pages, CRN took her as a patient. 

“Otherwise, she would have been in a facility,” Moriarty said. “We serviced her for about a year, and she died in her own home and that’s what she wanted. Her family wanted control over her health care and that was the basis of the whole thing.” 

As an alternative to a rehabilitation center or a hospital, home care services provide more autonomy in the decisions patients can make about their own treatment, Moriarty said. Home care also gives families more participation in the process. 

Families can feel “boxed in” when their relatives are in hospitals or hospices for care and “everyone is calling the shots for them,” Moriarty said. 

“Freedom is a huge piece of home care,” Moriarty said. “Families have a large component in saying what they want for their loved one, and that’s important." 

The spouse of the Berkshire County patient decided he didn’t want to use hospice care for his wife and instead went with home care because “he did not want to relinquish control,” Moriarty said. 

Every step of the process, the husband stayed up to date on the medications she needed and how much oxygen she required. CRN took care of her up until her final moments. 

“He felt that if he had hospice care, they would’ve taken control of everything,” Moriarty said. 

In 2002, George Symborski worked at the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office and he needed help with taking care of his wife. Roberta, who was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

Lou Gehrig’s disease affects parts of a patient’s nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement, and Symborski said he sought out CRN’s services because his wife needed professional care while he worked at the jail. 

“I couldn’t get other people to come at that time,” Symborski, of Southampton said. For eight hours a day, five days a week, CRN nurses would help Roberta with meals, playing cards and providing the care she needed. 

CRN provides companion care, meal preparations, grooming assistance, transportation for patients, among other services. Nurses are skilled in taking care of Alzheimer's patients, physical therapy, stroke care, and medication management. 

Staffing hours at CRN can vary; 20 clients a week at two hours each is “not much,” Moriarty said, while a busy week can have 10 clients that need 24-hour care. CRN’s highest staffing hours are 1,600 hours a week.

“It’s not just a nine to five job, but it’s a joy,” Moriarty said. “Watching a client’s health improve with nursing care is rewarding … We want to see people live well and be happy.” 

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com 

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