Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Visiting Nurses Work Through Cold to Check on Vulnerable City Residents

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The bitter cold can be downright miserable for just about anyone out in it, even for a couple of minutes, but visiting nurses are braving the weather to check up on some of the city's most vulnerable residents. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

Laura Calbo is 96 years young, and she's lived through her share of harsh winters.

"My mother took a super's job to get free coal because we couldn't afford to buy coal, we couldn't afford to get wood, and we took a super's job that she would make the hot water for the tenants, and that's how we got free coal, and we got a coal stove in our kitchen," Calbo said.

Now that she's seen more than a couple of decades go by, Calbo can't get around the way she used to. She's home most of the time now, recovering from an infection that landed her in the hospital for three weeks.

Part of that recovery includes visits from Sultana Alibasic with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. She typically conducts a short medical exam, but Tuesday, because of the frigid temps, Alibasic stayed with Calbo a bit longer with advice she gives all her clients.

"Making sure that their environment, their home, is well heated, and if not, you know, educating them on how to report," Alibasic said. "Reinforcing that unless no dire need, do they need to go out in this frigid weather. And also, dressing warm, like, if it's not that warm in here, layers."

She makes the suggestions even if they're suggestions that should go without saying.

"Even though it's common sense, at home, sometimes, we don't put an extra layer. And you find people, too, you have the heat on, yet they're in their night clothes," she said.

After checking in with Calbo, it's back out in the cold for Alibasic, who visits about seven people a day. Calbo is her third client, with several more stops to make.

Alibasic is also heeding the advice she's giving others.

"I'm usually a walker. I walk in the neighborhoods, I walk to different patients, but right now, I try to get parking as close as possible," she said. "I dress in layers myself. I have my Ugg boats on. I have undergarments. You really have to dress. And I try to walk in the sun is, not in between, where it's not so sunny, just to keep a little warm."

It's a bitterly cold day, but for many, still a day of work, so they'll just bundle up and get the job done.

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