Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Social Butterfly Has Wings

For the past 11 years, Lillian Russo has been on oxygen. She did the best she could with her lifestyle on O2. She found creative ways to transport the tanks with a cute canvas bag that served a dual purpose as a tank carrier and pocketbook. But this New Yorker is always on the go, between the refilling, hauling that heavy bag, and ordering 20 tanks per week the process and dedication began to take its toll on this Italian mother of four... so she decided to go portable. After all, how else is she going to keep up with her busy lifestyle of girls night at the casino in Atlantic City and Yonkers? You’ll find Lillian winning big; playing the slots, a hand of cards, or just relaxing with her girls. She never even thinks about changing tanks... that's so last season! This season is about moving forward, doing the things that Lil loves to do. This Italian family is centered around the kitchen, cooking magical dishes such as corned beef and Italian specialties that at sometimes feed up to 25 guest at a time, she's quite the chef!

Its easy for Lilian to move around the house with her Open-Aire, the size and weight make for an easier transport than her tanks did. Visiting her family is an almost daily occurrence and it's the highlight of her outings. She's extremely active at the senior center, where she attends meetings, plans trips, plays bingo and participates in arts and crafts. She’s known around the center for her exquisite crocheting techniques where she makes lap blankets for her friends in wheelchairs, and has also produced some beautiful baby blankets. She's diligently attempting to teach her grandchildren how to crochet, hopefully they will take after their grandma! This summer will be filled with food, crocheting and watching shows at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. Enter Lillian Russo, stage left.

Friday, April 22, 2011

No More Rushing For Ella

Ella Grant likes to take her time in life. She appreciates attention to detail, and wont stop until the job is done right. Her work ethic is impeccable, giving 19 years of her youth to a chemical factory, Ella knows dedication and compromise. When her doctor broke the news that she needed to stop working in the chemical factory, Ella was anything but pleased. But her lungs couldn’t take it anymore. They had given all they could, and only had 18% capacity left to give, and by then she was diagnosed with COPD. Ella felt as if she were ‘sentenced’ to tanks. She found herself rushing everywhere, just to be able to breathe. Ella was rushing to shop, rushing to eat and she didn’t like this. All of this rushing around combined with her COPD put Ella in the Hospital. After a stay for recuperation, Ella was still exhausted. She recalls an instant when she had a spiritual awakening and a very clear vision. After this experience Ella felt even more connected to something greater and made a promise to herself. She wanted to live. She wanted to see her great grandchild born and she wanted to spend more time with her supportive husband Ronald. Ella was not ready to give up and four days later she fulfilled her promises. She met her great grandson, Eli, as he was born in that very same hospital. Ella was discharged from the hospital and she refused to go back to tanks.

At her doctor visit, he had told her she is unlike any patient he has ever treated…she was his longest living COPD patient, ever. With her Open-Aire she can go on her life’s mission of enjoyment. No more rushing for Ella. This Easter will be spent with baby Eli who is now 1 year old. They will spend Easter painting Easter eggs, eating candy, and of course reading from the Bible. Ella will take her time baking one of her delicate and delicious baked goods such as; spiced rum cake, Hershey cake, cheese pie or even carrot cake. Maybe one of her sisters will visit her including Dean, where they can gossip until the sun goes down. Or maybe she will get a call from Vanessa, which is daily, and always a pleasure. Whatever Ella does, she will do it with care and love, since there’s no need to rush, and plenty of time to go around.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Head Strong, Head Start

Former Head Secretary for the Department of Agriculture Laboratories in Apache Junction, Arizona, Marilyn Reega knows the land and has a love for geography. She's no stranger to adventure, and views life as a road which deserves to be traveled, discovered and learned about. One of Marilyn's favorite pastimes (and memories) is RV'ing with her grandkids. Each summer they would hit the highways in search of laughter, national parks and good trivia. They have been everywhere including Canada, Montana, Colorado, and pretty much every single state and national park in the West. Marilyn is an avid history buff, and can go toe to toe with the best of them! Most of their RV excursions were more like an episode of Jeopardy, full of trivia and facts. Its hard to fool this savvy brainiac, so don’t even try.

When her Asthma got so bad that her doctor put her on oxygen, she decided to do a little research of her own. Marilyn called her local oxygen supplier (which was referred by her doctor) and asked if they offered any portable units. This seemed logical to Marilyn, since tanks would interfere with her travels and day to day lifestyle. They told her 'No' and that insurance doesn’t cover any such devices. Knowing Marilyn, her superior thought process didn’t see the logic behind this answer, and she did more research. She found Open-Aire, and found that it was in fact covered by her insurance. Nothing is going to stand in the way of her summer RV trips – this time including her great grandkids! Over the past year, Marilyn has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She’s managed to outsmart the cancer and has plans of RV’ing with her family this summer. Marilyn knows nothing about a road less traveled, thanks to her portable, and her strong will.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Day in the Life: Open-Aire Customer Service Rep, Susan Walker

To be awarded a place on the Open-Aire Customer Service Team, one must have the heart of an angel and the intellect of a scholar. Susan Walker encompasses Open-Aire’s daily standards of integrity, genuine compassion, and a Spartacus 'never give up' mentality. A normal day for Susan consists of answering questions, troubleshooting equipment, tubing issues and aiding with set-ups. Some days are more rewarding though for both Susan and the customers. On one particular afternoon in January 2011, Susan’s’ inner Spartan arose as she was needed by an Open-Aire customer. The call seemed pretty standard, as a customer needed help with her portable unit. After some troubleshooting, Susan noticed it was the charger that was having the problem and it needed to be replaced. She diligently did the proper paperwork, and placed the order for shipment. That could have easily been the end of the service issue with Susan and her customer. However, Susan took her time to speak longer with this customer.

It’s a good thing she did, because Susan also learned the customer was having issues with her stationary unit. Susan was fearful the portable unit wouldn’t hold up long enough for the charger to arrive in the mail, and the customer might be left without any oxygen at all. Unbeknownst to the customer, Susan was right. She instinctually and personally went to the warehouse in search of a replacement stationary unit she could send to the customer. Since it was the end of the day, they had missed the normal FedEx pick up. Most mediocre employees would say, "I'll mail it first thing tomorrow'. . . but not Susan, not an Open-Aire extraordinaire for the past 4 years. She personally packed up that 30 pound stationary unit herself, and drove it to FedEx. She insisted on an overnight delivery. Susan's instincts and skills proved positive, as she received a letter in the mail weeks later from the New York customer thanking her for her efforts as her stationary unit had in fact ran out before her charger arrived for the portable. Thanks to Susan and her warriorlike instincts, our Open-Aire customers don't have to worry about not being able to breathe.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Southern Gentleman

Ever met someone who genuinely wants to help others? Someone concerned with your well-being, even if they don’t personally know you? Meet Donald Bacon, a Southern Georgia gentleman full of manners and compassion. Donald is empathetic to those who suffer, since he himself experienced a life threatening situation which left him a changed man. Seven years ago Donald ordered a pizza from his local pizzeria, like he had many times before. On this day however, his pizza came with something extra. Donald had accidentally eaten a mushroom. Being highly allergic to the fungus, his body instantly ballooned up, swelling his airway, blocking off oxygen. Managing to get himself to the doctor, his physician questioned how he arrived there. . .Donald had walked. "How?" asked his doctor, claiming a miracle had occurred since Donald was only breathing at 24% capacity (breathing at 80% is considered dangerous).

Donald, known by his doctor as 'the miracle' was immediately put on oxygen, and has been ever since. Donald had tanks everywhere! In his home, his car and in his garage. He couldn’t travel or fly anymore since he needed his tanks, and his days of visiting his hometown to see his parents and siblings soon became a fond memory. Over the years Donald 'the miracle' has been diagnosed with Emphysema, and type 2 diabetes. Each time he visited his doctor (tanks in tote) he was still viewed as the miracle patient he had always been. Despite his health issues, and his life with tanks-Donald still kept a positive outlook on life, in hopes it would get better. During one of his routine trips to the doctor, Donald and Doc discussed the idea of a portable oxygen unit. It’s no miracle that Donald was IN with an Open-Aire portable oxygen concentrator! With his newfound freedom and gratitude, he’s been on a serious mission ever since. A mission to never give up hope, no matter what cards you’ve been dealt. Donald 'the miracle' has overcome too many obstacles in life to give up and surrender to a life of tanks and unfulfilled plans and bucket lists. Like many of our Open-Aire Samaritans, Donald Bacon we salute YOU and your courage, to never give up!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Vincent Drago from upstate New York is unique, indeed. In the earlier days, you would have found Vincent rocking out at Woodstock, feeling the music, culture and supporting everything from the 1960s and 1970s. He and his wife Laurinda of 36 years, even have a jukebox worthy music collection, sporting more than 350 records of original hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Living in a small town near Woodstock, Vincent is no stranger to the bohemian community of people. Coffee shops, tie dyed fashions, music and an eclectic walk down memory lane makes Woodstock a town frozen in time, and a fun place to visit.

In the past decade, Vincent has been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Diabetes. Anyone that knows Vinny, knows he’s a rocker, tough as nails, and a fighter. Even after recently being put on oxygen by his doctor, Vinny didn't seem to flinch at the idea. As a retired employee of GM, Vincent knows quality, efficiency and appeal. After time and experience, he knew tanks didn't suit his lifestyle, and frankly he didn't like the attention they gave him. Vinny says 'Open-Aire is the Cadillac of portable oxygen', and he has a point. Since his Woodstock days, Vincent has picked up a love for golf. Last summer was packed with days on the golf course, friends, lunch at the cafe and activity. Since he was put on oxygen, Vincent never wanted to haul around his tanks on the course, change them out and deal with the hassle. He never imagined the possibility of being able to bring his unit on the course. . .until now. Now he just throws it over his shoulder, puts it in the golf bag, or keeps it in the cart. This summer you'll find Vincent on the 9 hole Green Acres Golf Course in upstate New York, with his 'Cadillac of Air'. If you see him, be sure to tell him to 'Keep on ROCKIN!'