A special communication solution

“I think my friend is having a medical emergency.”

That was the call that Noble County EMS Dispatch received from one of Cheryle Tarter’s friends – and it wasn’t the first time they’d taken such a call from her friends or family members. As on the other occasions, the EMS team arrived at Cheryle’s home to find that there was no medical emergency.

Cheryle has suffered several strokes that have left her with a speech impairment. Although she’s independent and lives alone, when she answers the phone, some mistakenly think that she is having difficulty and call 9-1-1. In addition, her daughter, Angel Korte, who lives about 40 minutes away, and her social worker, Alisa Carpenter, assist her several times each week, but neither can be with her on a daily basis.

The multiple EMS calls were a little embarrassing to Cheryle. She also realized they prevented EMS teams from concentrating on other pressing needs. When Connie Cummins, coordinator of the EMS House Calls program at Parkview Noble Hospital, learned of the situation, she visited Cheryle to understand if there were preventive steps they could take to avoid future false alarms.

After meeting with Cheryle, Connie began to research options to improve Cheryle’s ability to communicate by phone. She found a “Talk to You” (TTY) phone that would allow Cheryle to type messages that would be converted to speech, allowing the other person on the call to understand Cheryle.

Thanks to the generosity of community donors, the Parkview Noble Foundation was able to provide the TTY phone system to Cheryle. The Kendallville Rotary Club donated a portion of the cost, and the remaining amount was provided through donations to the foundation’s Special Touch fund.

The TTY phone lets Cheryle communicate with messages such as, “I am fine. You will hear what I am typing to you. Please be patient for my answer.”

“This is a relief for me,” Angel said. “Even though I try to visit her several times a week, I’ve had to drive to Kendallville to check on her because I couldn’t understand her on the phone. I’ll feel better knowing that it will be easier to know if she really needs help or if she just wants to talk.”

Alisa agreed. “Cheryle is an active person and this will help her to be able to continue to live independently – just as she should,” she said. “I understand her fairly well, but sometimes I have to ask her to write down what she is trying to say. This will make it easier for me to check on her … and she can tell me if she needs me to run any errands for her before I come.”

Cheryle was all smiles as Connie installed the phone and showed her how to use it. Cheryle first wanted to thank everyone involved with making it easier for her to communicate. Nobody had any problems understanding her heartfelt words as she said, “I’m grateful to everyone who helped get me this phone. Thank you!”

 

 

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