Sitting on a sofa in Sophia Rodzon’s living room, Dr. Vincent A. Drapiewski wraps a cuff around her arm to check her blood pressure.
It’s 140/80, he tells her. Good for a person her age with a history of hypertension.
Rodzon, 89, of Hanover Township is glad to hear that news and seems equally happy that the physician came to her home on a recent Monday morning.
“I thank God every night that you come to the house,” she said. “I would not have a doctor if you didn’t come here. I appreciate it.”
When Drapiewski asks Rodzon, a cancer survivor who has osteoarthritis, about her mobility, she says she makes several daily trips up and down the stairs. “I don’t run up two steps at a time as I did 20 years ago,” she said. “But I get around.”
Gleaning extra information about any special challenges a patient might face at home is one reason Drapiewski, a specialist in geriatrics and internal medicine, likes to visit patients where they live,just as his father, the late Dr. Albin Drapiewski, did before him.
“He used to take me on house calls,” recalled the doctor, who grew up in the Scranton area and now lives in Wilkes-Barre.
Convenience for the patient is another reason he’s willing to travel, Drapiewski said as he made another Monday-morning call, this one at the home of Virginia Steczkowski in Plymouth.
“She has three sons who do a marvelous job taking care of her,” Drapiewski said, explaining the elderly patient, who turned 87 on Easter, has dementia. “They have to feed her like an infant, and they keep her very clean.”
The sons are simply returning a favor, 63-year-old Leonard Steczkowski said, because their mother took care of them when they were young. “Mom’s the best,” he said, standing beside a tray on which several spoonfuls of mandarin orange slices disguised the medicine his mother needed to take.
“Charlie’s here, Charlie’s here. Open your eyes, ” middle son Charlie Steczkowski said, trying to coax his mother to drink some juice.
“Now don’t spit that back out at me,” he added gently.
Leonard and Charlie are retired; a third brother, John, works outside the home and helps care for their mother as well.
“As soon as Mom wakes up, everything is for her,” Leonard Steczkowski said.
Drapiewski put on a pair of gloves and inspected the patient’s foot where he had noticed a pressure sore on a previous visit.
“It’s almost completely healed,” the doctor said, explaining that if such wounds don’t improve, they can turn into a serious infection.
Leonard said his mother becomes agitated if she has to leave the house, so the family is grateful for visits from Drapiewski and from nurses who stop by.
“We take care of her,” he said, “but it takes a team.”
Drapiewski agreed and later admitted he is part of several teams, volunteering at health clinics at St. Stephen’s Church, the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic and the Care and Concern Clinic in Pittston.
At 79, he’s semi-retired and not taking on any additional patients. He enjoys riding a mountain bike, walking with weights and playing his 7-foot Steinway. Moving the piano was the hardest part, said the doctor, who took it with him when he relocated from Bear Creek to downtown Wilkes-Barre.