Before she started working at Einstein Healthcare Network, Maria Meirzon spent a decade visiting patients’ homes to provide care as a home healthcare nurse.
So when COVID-19 happened and her patients found themselves unable to leave their homes, driving out to them to provide essential medicine or any other care seemed like second nature.
Meirzon works as a nurse navigator for Einstein’s Department of Endocrinology, meaning her job description only entails accommodating patients who come into Einstein Center One in Bustleton and Einstein Holmesburg Outpatient Center. She mostly works with patients with osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become brittle and weak. A bone fracture for an elderly patient could be catastrophic, especially if they hadn’t been able to come into the office and receive their bone-strengthening injection to prevent fractures. Injections are often taken every six months.
For Meirzon, it was a simple solution. She voluntarily traveled to patients’ homes to provide them with the injections, a service Einstein doesn’t officially offer.
“I thought we had no choice, those patients had to get their treatment,” Meirzon said.
Over the span of several months Meirzon made more than 60 home trips to provide care for patients, sometimes traveling as far as 40 minutes to see a patient. Instead of viewing it as more work, it was something she looked forward to.
“I did it on my own time,” she said.
She would go either during her lunch break or wait until after work.
The trips were about more than just receiving the treatment. Some patients probably hadn’t been able to see family and friends for months, so Meirzon used the opportunity to socialize with the patients. Many would show her pictures of grandchildren and would just be grateful to have someone to talk to, she said.
“You understand a person better when you see them in their own environment instead of the office,” she said.
Earlier in the year, Meirzon was awarded Einstein’s Martin Luther King Keeper of the Dream award for her dedication to the community, having been nominated by advisers from two different offices who hadn’t consulted each other about the nomination.
She didn’t learn about the award until a few days before she was named the recipient.
“I didn’t have to do it, nobody asked me to do it, but I really wanted to help these people,” she said.
Born in Russia, she moved to Israel with her mother to earn a degree from Tel Aviv University and begin a career in nursing. After marrying and starting a family, she moved to the United States in 2004, working as a home healthcare nurse before joining Einstein two years ago.
Einstein currently offers drive-through injections that allow patients to stay right in their cars, so Meirzon no longer needs to make the home trips.
But if she’s needed again, Meirzon is sure to step up and help. ••