May 2021 Patient Letters

Lavaughn Coward, VNSNY Hospice RN

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to prove the resilience and dedication of our entire VNSNY staff. The following are excerpts from a few of the many recent letters, phone calls, and emails that we’ve received from grateful patients and family members that reflect an outstanding consumer experience.  




“A Wonderful Job of Caring”

Bronx—The daughter of a Bronx VNSNY Hospice patient called to give special thanks to licensed social worker Alisha Freeman and nurses Judith Spencer-Thomas and Selina Stewart-Williams, all of whom provided hospice care to her mother. She added that VNSNY Hospice had done “such a wonderful job of caring,” first for her father—who was also a hospice patient years earlier—and now her mother.

We Are So Grateful”

“I am writing on behalf of my late father, and my mother, as the superb work of your staff sustained the both of them throughout his final year of life,” wrote the daughter of another Bronx hospice patient. “Licensed social worker Joan Gasser provided excellent follow up and advice throughout the year. Clinical specialist and nurse practitioner Lucinda Langenkamp provided late-night advice and counsel when my dad had a very unusual drug reaction, that not only calmed us all down but managed the situation expertly and with minimal side effects.” In addition, she noted, “Occupational Therapist Darryl Austin actually managed to cheer up my Dad and bring the focus back to joy when it was most needed in the last month of his life. And finally, without nurse Rosalie Galante, my dad would have suffered through a truly terrible medical situation that might well have killed him, correcting a problem that was urgent and very painful. We are so grateful.” Along with the letter, the patient’s family also sent a donation to VNSNY.

“I Personally and Highly Recommend VNSNY!”

Manhattan— “Hit a big milestone with my health—today was my last home visit from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York!” tweeted a Manhattan Home Care patient. “Chui Choo Hua was my main nurse and she was absolutely wonderful. I’m so grateful for her help and support. If you’re looking for a nonprofit to support, I personally and highly recommend VNSNY!”

“Always Available”

Comprehensive care manager Saheed Kinoshi and vocational specialist Trina Malloy received praise from a Community Mental Health Services client, who called to say how appreciative he was for the guidance and assistance they provided him, and for “always being available.”

“Professional and Personal”

The stepdaughter of a VNSNY Hospice patient wrote a touching email thanking the staff responsible for her stepmother’s care in her final days. She was very unhappy in the hospital and later at a rehab-hospice facility, and “needed care at home,” wrote the stepdaughter. “A caring neighbor with experience in geriatrics connected us with VNSNY and the New Jewish Home healthcare system. Someone from the New Jewish Home was with her 24 hours a day, and the VNSNY nurses came once or twice a week.” She praised the work of nurses Lavaughn Coward, Taniel Duncan, and Omofolarin Debellotte, along with the other nurses who cared for her stepmother, as well as social work assistant Matthew Hart. “Her case manager, licensed social worker Sara Bernstein, was great with advice and very helpful when we needed assistance with a doctor’s letter,” she added. “I was in town for two weeks and met some of the VNSNY staff then, and all were kind and seemed to genuinely care about their patients. Even when my stepmom was not herself and had times when she was a handful… they reacted calmly. It was great knowing she had company and that the care team was both professional and personal.”

“A Top-Tier Employee!”

“I want to call attention to the physical therapist who has helped me out at my home the last few weeks—Manuel Espino,” wrote a Manhattan Home Care patient. “His hard work, discipline, and knowledge have helped me through this difficult period of rehabilitation. He seems to have a consistent fortitude of optimism and encouragement and should be commended for his efforts. It would be best to consider him a top-tier employee!”

“I Could Not Imagine Using a Different Agency!”

The wife of a Home Care patient recovering from COVID-19 wrote a touching letter thanking the members of his care team. “When my husband arrived home from the hospital, he was very weak, had difficulty walking, and wasn’t eating, along with some other post-COVID symptoms,” she wrote. “The VNSNY team was our salvation. Nurse Chona Castillo helped to provide direction for his care and physical therapist Jennifer Ashhelped get him out of bed and walking. When his primary physician provided no direction, they arranged for physician fellow Hyeyoung Erin Jeun to help answer questions about his condition and provide direction on what to do to ease the problems. They all allayed my anxiety, allowing me to continue to provide day-to-day care.” The wife also mentioned that VNSNY had provided care to her husband twice just a few years earlier, following two hip fractures. “After this current hospitalization, I could not imagine using a different agency!” she added. Thank you and all your staff again for the valuable services you provided!”

“There for Us 100 Percent”

“My father just passed away, and he received excellent care until the end from nurse Daniel McCarthy,” wrote the daughter of a Manhattan hospice patient. “Daniel was an excellent nurse who was there for us 100 percent—without his support we would have been lost, and I would love to recommend him.”

“Such Wonderful People”

“I feel impelled to commend and bring to your attention the outstanding service that nurse Chona Castillo and occupational therapist Sarah Bravo provided me,” wrote the daughter of another Manhattan patient. “Chono is a caring and sincere nurse who kept me in the loop on everything that had to do with my mother’s care. Sarah would always advise me on when she was coming, what she would be doing, and how I could assist, and always kept me updated with regard to my mother’s care each time she visited. Thank you for having such wonderful people working for you!”

“I Trust this Organization with My Eyes Closed”

In a very moving email, the daughter of a VNSNY Hospice patient thanked everyone who assisted in her mother’s care during the final days of her life. “Nurse Matthew Fisher was kind and sincere, always taking the time to speak with my mother and showing her he cared—which was a gift from God,” she wrote. “Nurse Latoya Lawson was able to convince my mom to take her medicine and use her pain patches—my mother was always happy to see her as well. Licensed social worker Joseph Johnston was always available to talk and reached out to see how I was doing, providing suggestions for self-care and how to support my mom. Finally, I want to thank nurses Alexsandra Papillon, Carmite Maurice, and Charisse Persaud for coming over and assisting with my mom on her last weekend here on earth, and for teaching me ways to change and turn a patient among other nursing knowledge that I can use myself.” The daughter, who works in a hospital, noted that VNSNY is often recommended to patients while being discharged. “I always tell them that I trust this organization with my eyes closed. Thank you all for everything—words cannot express how grateful my family is for you. God bless you all and continue the good work!”

“Exemplary Care”

“On behalf of my daughter and our family, we want to convey our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the exemplary care received from physical therapist Ashwini Nagole and occupational therapist Dina Klein,” wrote the father of a Manhattan patient. “At the outset, from our first phone calls and emails, VNSNY efficiently completed its intake protocols to enable home therapy sessions to start expeditiously. Both Ashwini and Dina were warm and engaging caregivers who immediately developed a great rapport with our daughter. More importantly, they were sensitive to her varied medical conditions and conducted these sessions utilizing user-friendly physical exercises, stretch maneuvers and related therapies, which made her chronic pain more tolerable and enabled her to have improved range of motion as well as greater strength and maneuverability.” He added that while his daughter still had ways to go in her recovery, she made such progress during these sessions that she can now receive therapy outside the home. “Ashwini and Dina are caring and compassionate professionals who have clearly made a difference in our daughter’s ability to perform her activities of daily living,” he concluded. “For that and more, our family thanks VNSNY!”

“My Parents are in Very Good Hands”

“I have been extremely fortunate to have as my point person administrative supervisor Josephine Smith,” wrote the daughter of two Partners in Care clients. “Josie is an excellent supervisor—a pro at matching clients to aides. She is responsive, smart, and a lovely personality who has always guided me well and has been quick to make any changes and corrections when necessary. I have been in the service business and I believe a manager is only as good as the staff with whom they work. Josie is a great member of your team, and with her help, I feel my parents are in very good hands.”

“Their Care Gives Me Comfort and Reassurance”

Queens—“I wanted to take the time to tell you how grateful I am for my mother’s care team: nurse Myrtha Civil, licensed social worker Alan Booth, spiritual care counselor Rogelio Williams, bereavement counselor Jean Metzker, and nurse practitioner Ann Mueller” wrote the daughter of a Queens VNSNY Hospice patient. “This team has been consistently providing such a high level of care, commitment, and compassion to not only my mother but to her home health aides and to myself. As a health care provider, single parent, and caregiver to my father who is also terminally ill, their care gives me comfort and reassurance in knowing that my mother and I are in good hands. This team exemplifies the standards of customer service, effectiveness, and care coordination that as a family caregiver of 12 years, I have never experienced before. I hope it serves to encourage and inspire them in knowing that their service is making a meaningful difference in other people’s lives!”

“Changed Our Lives for the Better”

“My mother is currently a patient under the care of hospice nurse Berkis Oken,” wrote the daughter of another Queens hospice patient. “At the point that my mom entered the VNSNY Hospice program, she was in deteriorating health, both mentally and physically, and my family and I were having difficulty handling my mom’s increasingly desperate situation. When Berkis entered our lives, I can honestly say that all of our lives—but mostly that of my mother’s—changed for the better.” The daughter praised Berkis for being “one of the most professional and responsible individuals” she had ever met, calmly approaching the stress of treating her mother in an efficient, yet compassionate manner. “Berkis is also keenly sensitive to the needs of her patient’s extended family,” she added. “As I write this letter, my mom is in the final stage of her life. I texted Berkis early last Friday morning, to advise her that my mom had experienced a very bad night. True to form, she texted me back immediately, visited my mom that day, and followed up with several calls to check on her. Words cannot adequately express the serenity and reassurance I feel knowing Berkis will be there to ensure that mom’s last days will be peaceful and relatively pain-free.”

“I Am So Lucky”

Staten Island— A Community Mental Health Services client called to relay thanks to Jennifer Kaya, Assessment Specialist for CMHS’s Comprehensive Care Management Program. “I am so lucky to have spoken with someone with such a caring heart—she made my day,” said the client. “Having compassion, good communication skills, and explaining everything in great detail was so helpful! It was so important for me to inform you of what a great worker Jen is.” The client also expressed how happy she was to be connected to VNSNY and enrolled in the care management program.

“An Exemplary Employee!”

Westchester— A patient who recently underwent total shoulder replacement surgery wrote a letter praising the work of occupational therapist Kelly Guich in aiding her recovery. “I have had home services for post-operative care in the past, and none were the caliber of Kelly,” the patient noted. “She is the ultimate professional: attentive, sensitive to my needs, and patient when instructing me on my personal daily care. I saw improvement with each session, and she was always on time and a phone call away for any of my concerns. Kelly is an exemplary employee!”

To read other Letters and Commendations from previous months, click here.