Ralph Grant

Ralph Grant still loves to cut down trees on his 20 acres in Bucksport.  He drags them to his shed with a tractor where he cuts and splits them for firewood – three chords all by himself every year. Ralph will be the first to tell you it’s not as much as he use to do but that he enjoys it and he knows keeping active is vital. Before he retired, Ralph worked for 35 years in the maintenance department for Bangor Schools. The nature of his work kept him quite busy so he didn’t really pay too much attention to his diet or the wonderful baked goods his wife makes. “When they told me I had diabetes I went right into denial,” he admits. No one in his family had ever been diagnosed with diabetes. That was ten years ago and Ralph did a pretty good job of taking his medication and watching what he ate, but when his wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease the focus changed from him to her.
 
Ralph and Charlene have been married for more than 50 years. They met at church and have been devoted to each other ever since. If you were to meet them they’d remind you of those storybook couples that believe heart in soul and loving each other through sickness and health, a vow both of them take quite literally. Together, the two of them managed Ralph’s diabetes pretty well but as Charlene’s condition worsened Ralph’s diabetes also worsened. His primary care provider at EMMC’s Husson Internal Medicine suggested Ralph work Cynthia Herrick, a nurse care coordinator, who would help him stay on top of his diabetes, something that was especially important since his disease now required insulin.
 
For nearly a year now the Grants have had Cynthia’s 36 years of nursing experience at their fingertips. “She checks on me and I like that,” says Ralph.  “She keeps my doctor in the loop and helps me stay connected to all things having to do with my healthcare.” Ralph knows how to get in touch with Cynthia and she also reaches out to him - sometimes weekly. It all depends on what he needs and wants. ”Nurse care coordinators develop relationships with people over the phone. We become a part of their lives. Personally, I am so thankful when I am able to make a difference, to help with something that’s been a struggle. This is the most hopeful I have been about healthcare in a very long time,” smiles Cynthia.
 
Charlene has certainly noticed a difference in her husband since Cynthia has been involved. “She really personalizes our healthcare and makes sure we get what we need. She gives Ralph alternatives to reaching his goal and forces him to look after his health,” shares Charlene. They all are acutely aware of what could happen if Ralph doesn’t take the time to manage his diabetes and with the collective help of his doctor, nurse, and wife Ralph can live at home and be healthy. “My main concern is if something happens to me what would happen to my wife? She would have to go to a home and she doesn't want that.  I don't want that for her."
 
Through care coordination, Ralph has learned the importance of developing a routine in order to keep his diabetes in the forefront of his mind. He sees the importance of logging his blood sugar numbers so that he can analyze them and adjust his insulin or get some help long before an emergency that could take him away from his home and his ailing wife. “I’m so thankful for this kind of care and I would recommend it to anyone.”