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Nurse of Excellence – April 2023

 Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Originally, I am from Massachusetts where it was nine of us growing up, seven girls and two boys. My initial plan was to become a veterinarian as a very nurturing type of person. My sister is honestly at fault for getting me into my true passion of nursing. She brought home a nursing application, which got the thought percolating in my mind if it may just be better caring for people versus animals.

It was a gift based on what my life was later going to bring. My beautiful first and only daughter struggled with constant seizures for the most part of her life. That is where my nursing skills helped me care for her and better understand her condition and deal with the doctors on our frequent hospital stays.

After graduating I started out on the Med-surg unit with a plan to do it for one year, but then somehow, I found myself doing so for the next twenty years or so.

Five years and change ago, I came to New York where I got married and resettled here. As part of the changes taking place in my life, other than downsizing from a full-size home to a condo(!!) I also transitioned to the homecare side of nursing. And to be honest, once I did so I cannot envision how I ever did anything but.

Can you share with us more about your daughter, how it felt to be a nurse caring for your own?

My daughter, Tiara was such a sweetheart, always showing off “my mom is a nurse”. When she wrote in her little notebook, I could also see her writing that “my mom is a nurse.” I could tell she was proud of me, and it felt good!  When she was born, she was a regular adorable baby meeting every milestone without showing any symptoms of anything. Around the time of her first birthday, she had her first seizure and the doctors diagnosed her with epilepsy. However, the seizures were few and far between not invading our lives… yet. Once she turned five, her condition intensified, the seizures were happening just about any time, sometimes daily. I felt blessed that my nursing skills enable me to care for my little girl. My knowhow of the healthcare system also helped me better understand what was happening and how to communicate with the doctors to get the best care for her.

Tiara was my best friend we were breathing each other’s thoughts. Until it was a night I will never forget. Ironically, I was heading out to shift to care for patients as it happened. My beautiful daughter, only sixteen years old took a bath, where she suffered her fatal seizure in the water. When I found her, it was over. I believe this is also something that routed my heart to work with Private Duty 1;1 patient to protect those vulnerable patients from threatening illnesses.

What were the additional reasons you did you opted to go off the floor after full twenty years to work on the homecare side of nursing?  

Modern world floor nursing, or many venues of the medical field are lacking personal, direct patient connection. I do find that the nurse-to-patient interaction is part of the essence of nursing which propels you to go on. Once I decided to go off the floor, I tried some supervision roles of nursing, but it did not give me the same fulfillment assessing others as doing the patient care myself.

Do you have preferences in terms of the age group you work with?

Though for the most part of my career I worked with the adult population on the Med-surg floor, I discovered that there is something so rewarding about working with children.

I also developed a special place in my heart working with patients with cognitive illnesses and special needs.

Their innocence and gratitude are so profound. Though they may not say thank you, their smiles give you energy.

When I originally met the little guy I work with for the past couple of years, he was two and half and he would barely sit up. Over the past years we have been working on strengthening his muscles, and now he can sit up by himself. He waves to me to say good morning when I enter the room and hums a tune when he is happy. Seeing the progress of my patients makes the job so gratifying.

When people see us when we go to MD appointments, parks or even other places, people get baffled. I always get comments. People cannot believe our relationship is nurse and patient. Also, people underestimate what my little patient understands. Though he cannot talk, we have learnt to communicate. He understands everything I say.

His mom likes to joke that I am like his grandma, and you know what – she isn’t that off!

What do you like doing in your spare time to recharge your batteries?

Anything related to arts & crafts is my favorite. It is so meditation, relaxing and great for your mental health too.  One of my former nurse colleagues met me in the dollar tree buying this huge coloring book. She knew the kind of relationship I have with my patient, that I can always buy him stuff. She was like “Are you buying it for your patient?” It felt way weird but sweet saying that I’m actually getting it for myself.

I also love traveling, which is kind of an expensive hobby. We just did a girls’ cruise in the family to the Cayman Islands, Mexico and Jamaica. Many of my cousins and nieces joined for eight special days out in the ocean. I’ll admit I do treat myself rather often. Next month I am heading out, this time with my husband, to a trip to the Bahamas.  I have been to many of the Caribbean Islands and look forward to seeing more!

 What do you love about your job most?

The flexibility of my job at White Glove is something I greatly appreciate!  When I worked within the hospital rigidity, I had my set two weeks off for the year, which we had to coordinate with all the nurses on the floor. The most senior nurses would get the prime summer slots, while I would usually have to schedule for end summer or no summer. Additionally, it was only two set weeks with no more allowances. I could not have enjoyed life this much with the ability to travel more frequently.

Any message you would like to impart to more White Glove Nurses? Being a nurse is not just about trach care, you know. It is about advocating for them and making their life the best possible. Playing toys may be out of the description of the care plan but it helps them develop. Our energy and positivity are transmitted helping our patients get better.