Evergreen Park caregiver helps save senior’s life

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Evergreen Park resident Judy Quinn Knasiak, a home care provider, spends her days helping people in their homes, or putting families in touch with caregivers. But last week, she very likely saved the life of one of her clients.

          Quinn Knasiak, who is a community liaison in addition to being a care provider with Health Advocates in Palos Heights, explained that she spends two days a week with her 70-year-old client in Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood near Midway Airport.

          “I’ve worked with her for two years. She is like a family member,” she said, explaining that she had last seen the woman on Sept. 14.

          “When her daughter called from Wyoming, where she was on vacation on Wednesday (Sept. 16), saying she was not answering the phone, I knew something was wrong.” She told the woman’s daughter to call the Chicago Lawn (8th) District police and ask for a well-being check. Quinn Knasiak then met the officers outside the house.

          The woman was found on her bedroom floor, where she had fallen, probably 24 hours before. “Thankfully, she did not hit her head or break any bones,” said the caregiver. “But at first, when she was unresponsive, and the police officers initially thought she had died.”

          “I was on the phone with her daughter, and they first said I couldn’t see her. But when she heard my voice, she started talking and moving around,” said Quinn Knasiak. “It was such a relief.”

          “Then, when I left the room and went into the kitchen, she started calling for me.”

“We figure she probably fell down the day before. Thankfully, she wasn’t seriously hurt. She’s a wonderful woman,” she said, explaining that prior to joining Health Advocates this year, Quinn Knasiak owned a home care agency, and the Clearing woman has been a client since then.

          “She is actually in great shape. If her sight was a little better, she would probably still be driving,” said Quinn Knasiak, explaining that her role with this client is to spend two days with her each week, taking her shopping and running errands, and making sure she has enough food and necessities in the house. “I just keep her company, and give her an opportunity to get out of the house.”

          The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment of dehydration, and may go to a rehab center for a while. But Quinn Knasiak said she is otherwise doing fine now.

          When told that she very likely saved the woman’s life, Quinn Knasiak responded modestly, that she was just doing her job. Furthermore, she said it happened once before, a few years ago when she found another client in a similar predicament, also in the Clearing neighborhood.

“I don’t really want to call attention to myself. But it just goes to show that home health aides can be very helpful and it might be something people would want to look into getting for their parents or other family members getting up in years.”

“Judy responded so quickly and does great work, but things like that happening are not that unusual,” said Raj Ismail, president of Health Advocates, based at 11737 Southwest Highway, Palos Heights. He said that since opening about 18 months ago, the agency has about 40 clients throughout the Southwest Side of Chicago and suburbs. In addition to having home care providers, the agency also has two registered nurses who visit clients regularly.

“We’ve been blessed with a lot of good people to work with,” said Ismail. “Not that long ago, another client was rescued from similar circumstances in her home in Palos Park,” he noted.

Quinn Knasiak, 52, is a native of Chicago’s West Lawn neighborhood and graduated from Lourdes High School in the city.

A mother of four, she has been through a lot in her own life, and said her challenges led her into the healthcare field. With her husband, Kurt, she moved from West Lawn to Evergreen Park so they could keep an eye on her parents, who live on the block behind theirs. Her sister, who has Down syndrome, lives with her parents.

“I am a cancer survivor, and a survivor of a drunk-driving accident. I feel it is my purpose in life to take care of those who need it,” she said