Part companion, part medical caregiver, always a friend in need, Colonie town nurse Sue Kaiser has been making house calls to residents for 24 years.
After a stint at a local hospital as an acute-care nurse, Kaiser took on the job of town nurse, a town service that dates back to the 1930s. Although most local municipalities provide outreach services to older residents, Colonie is the only local town employing a full-time nurse.
Kaiser works out of office space at the Beltrone Living Center off Wolf Road. She runs on high speed, and it can be hard to catch up with her.
I have morning office hours from about 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., said Kaiser, who ends almost every sentence with a laugh. "People have to get up very early to see me."
Mobile town residents of any age can stop in for routine care such as blood pressure checks, injections, wound care, diet and health counseling, diabetic monitoring or newborn assessments. Kaiser averages about six patients a day in the office, many of whom are regulars.
Administrators at Beltrone said Kaiser has been a godsend to the center's community.
"She is an early riser, but so are many of our Senior living center residents," said Ed Neary, executive director for Colonie Senior Services Centers. "They really appreciate her advice and like her so much. She has a very low-key manner and willingness to help."
Akin to a school nurse, Kaiser is often the first stop for patients sensing there's something not quite right, but hesitant to call their physician.
"One of our maintenance men went to see Sue, and she checked his blood pressure then sent him right to his doctor," said Neary. "That's just one example of someone she helped; there are so many unsung stories."
After less than an hour in the office, Kaiser turns on the answering machine, which she checks frequently throughout the day, and hits the open road. She loads up the Chevy the town provides her with syringes, testing equipment and a stethoscope. She plots out her home visits geographically, squeezing the most stops out of her afternoon, during which she can see up to 10 patients.