After Almost a Year Searching for Nurses, Meyersdale Teen Able to Come Home

By Daniel Hamburg, WJAC

A Somerset County teenager and his mother are finally home, after almost a year in and out of the hospital in Pittsburgh. It takes a constant flow of medication to keep 17-year-old Tyler Henderson alive and healthy. His mother, Dawn Thomas goes to great lengths to make sure he gets what he needs. But Tuesday was the first time in almost a year, 359 days to be exact, since Dawn and Tyler have been back home in Meyersdale.

A tracheostomy and a ventilator help him breath.

"It was kind of nerve-wracking, nervous and excited because we've never lived trach life at home,” Thomas said. “He's never had a trach. He's never had a vent. Ever since he's been trached last May, we've been in the hospital the whole time, so we've never experienced life outside of the hospital in his condition, the way it is."

Tyler was born with cerebral palsy and now has scoliosis. Because of the scoliosis, only part of his lungs are functioning.

"We went through every nursing company, like six of them, and they have had nobody, so it's still a big shortage,” Thomas said. “Nobody--you can't get any nursing around here."

A shortage of home health care nurses left her and her son stuck in the hospital.

"Basically, between the Children's Home and the PICU. We went back to the PICU for a neck wound and finally we got a call from Maxim that they had transition nurses to bring us home, until they found nursing,” Thomas said.

Transition nurses are in place for three months while they find permanent nursing for the overnight shift, 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

"Just with everything that's going on, vendors and all that's coming in, we're getting all this stuff done, but other than that, I think we're going to be OK,” Thomas said. “It was just the anxiety of getting here, you know. It didn't seem real."

Boxes of supplies crowd her house and a slew of paperwork needs to be filled out.

Right now, Dawn is still out of a job. After she finds permanent night shift nurses, she'll also need to find nurses to work the day shift.

"Hopefully, some nurses will see this, people getting out of school, will apply for home health instead of going straight to hospitals, nursing homes,” Thomas said. “Home health care for people is a really big need right now."