Our staff

img_0525 Susan Kelsey, Ph.D., M.S., CMC, Care Manager

Susan has an extensive background working with geriatric clients in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities and home health for over 25 years.  Before founding Assistance + with Karen Kirby in 2001, Susan worked as a speech and language pathologist, specializing in adults with neurological disorders, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, stroke and head trauma.  Susan is a certified geriatric care manager and a member of the Aging Life Care Association.  She has a doctoral degree in Health Services from the University of South Carolina, with a concentration in gerontology.  She has published research articles on Alzheimer’s disease in such journals as The Gerontologist, American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, and Home Health Care Services Quarterly. She has also presented her research at national scientific meetings.   Susan served as chairperson of the Beaufort County, S.C. Committee on Aging in Place, charged with seeking ways to help local older adults live safely in their homes as long as possible.  Susan and Karen are frequent invited speakers at  workshops and seminars, addressing such issues as: Caring for Aging Parents, Advanced Preparation for a Health Care Crisis, and Dealing with Caregiver Stress.

Karen Kirby Karen Kirby, B.S.W., Care Manager, Social Worker

Karen’s career in social work has taken her in many different directions over the years.  She has experience in both private and public social agencies and has also worked as a hospital social worker for many years.  Since moving to Hilton Head she has practiced in the geriatric field exclusively, working in assisted living facilities, skilled nursing communities and with hospice care.  She has been involved in the start-up of two assisted living communities and one skilled nursing facility on Hilton Head.  Karen also facilitates several support groups dealing with bereavement and caregiver groups for those persons dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.  Participants in her support groups are truly blessed to have such a dedicated, knowledgeable and compassionate facilitator.  In addition, Karen has served as a board member for a local hospice and on the advisory board for the College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina.

suzanne Suzanne Burnette, R.N., Care Manager

Suzanne is a registered nurse with over 30 years of experience in a variety of settings, most recently as a hospice nurse.  She provides a perfect balance to the care management staff of Assistance + with her gerontological  nursing background and knowledge of disease processes.  She also is a volunteer with Operation R & R, a local organization that provides vacations on Hilton Head Island for returning deployed soldiers and their families.  When she’s not working, you can find her taking care of her grandchildren.