Dedicated to working with seniors, this ‘Healthcare Hero’ goes above and beyond

All week we are honoring Hawaii's Healthcare Heroes. We start with Mandy Kiaha.
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 7:32 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2021 at 8:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Doctors and nurses aren’t the only healthcare heroes. Some of the most important people are those who help you connect with the care you need.

That’s where Mandy Kiaha comes in.

Mandy is a geriatric nurse practitioner at CareSift, a senior placement service. But to explain what she does, we need to tell you about 96-year-old Michiyo Ito.

Until last year, Michiyo was doing great.

“She was in picture perfect health,” her son Derek Ito said. “All the way until COVID in March, she never had any health issues. She never visited the hospital.”

In fact, at 95, Michiyo was still driving.

But then in March, Michiyo fell and her health began to deteriorate.

“We were clueless, my brothers and I, about getting care for my mom when she needed it,” Derek said.

Luckily, Ito’s gerontologist recommended Caresift, and Mandy took over from there.

She recommended Derek and his brothers get Michiyo immediate care at the emergency room and be looked at for any head injuries. And when it became obvious they couldn’t provide for her on their own, Mandy answered every question.

She even helped with simple things like explaining the difference between a nursing home and a care home and how to know what their mom needed.

Derek says Mandy went above and beyond anything he expected.

He explains, “Sometimes I would text her in the evening time, 8 o’clock at night, 8:30 at night or on the weekends and wasn’t expecting her to respond to it. Then I get either a phone call or a text from Mandy and I’m like ‘oh my goodness.’”

But Mandy shrugs off the praise.

She says, “I was happy to offer the family different options, have them take a look at a number of homes that would be a really good fit for her so they could decide where mom would be happiest.”

After looking through their options, they toured five different homes before settling on this one and Michiyo has responded nicely.

According to Derek, Michiyo is “walking around, she’s smiling. Her complexion, you can just tell she’s much happier. You can notice as far as her being able to be mobile like that. She’s a lot faster. For 96 years old, if I could last that long and be that active, I’d be happy.”

She does crafts. She plays games. She likes to chat.

Michiyo’s story and those like hers are why Mandy loves her job.

She was very close with her own grandparents but unfortunately they’ve all passed.

Mandy says, “so from that I really had this desire to work with seniors and help them and their families. Because I do kinda see that in myself and I miss my grandparents as well.”

But because of Mandy’s love and dedication, perhaps we can enjoy more time with our own kupuna.

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