Hard Work, Dedication, Compassion .. Bringing Home Great Nursing Care in Mount Washington Valley
Right: Margaret Roberston, RN Left: April Walker, RN
May 6, 2018
NORTH CONWAY, NH -- Some nurses work in hospitals. Others in doctor’s offices. Some work in management and administration. But the nurses at Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice of Carroll County and Western Maine (VNHCH) serve a unique role in delivering nursing care to their community, right in their patients’ homes.
While VNHCH employs 12 nurses, the work of two RNs are representative of the efforts of the team at VNHCH. Their stories are exemplar of the hard work, dedication and compassion it takes to provide home care and hospice to patients in need of care.
Margaret Robertson, RN previously worked at Memorial Hospital and for Dr. Robert Tilney. But 23 years ago, she found her niche as a visiting nurse. She explained, “It’s such a different type of nursing. I got there and said this is it - it’s the best job ever. When you’re with the patient, you are with that patient entirely. You are not distracted by call bells going off or being called into another room.”
Another unexpected professional benefit for local visiting nurses? “We see a lot more of a variety in visiting nurses than I did at the hospital. Some of my patients come out of the bigger, out of town hospitals so I’ve learned how to care for more complex surgeries and conditions.”
Margaret is a wound care certified nurse, and also is certified in ostomy management, the only visiting nurse in the Valley with that specialty. “That’s a great resource for our community and VNHCH invested a lot of time, money and effort in me as a professional to get that experience. They invested in me as an employee.”
Over her 23 years In home care, the biggest change Margaret has noted has been the increasing acuity. “People are coming home sicker. There’s more technology that allows people to stay home versus staying in a hospital for weeks. Because of technology and equipment, patients can be cared for at home.”
But the challenge is worth it, because patients can do better at home if they’re managed properly. Margaret stated, “People sleep better in their own bed, like their own food and thrive in their own environment.”
But what makes it all worth the long hours? “ You can’t describe what it’s like to go in and see a patient who is scared to death and by the end of your visit, they thank you. That’s a gift from the patient. You can’t buy that feeling anywhere.”
On a recent Monday afternoon, April Walker, RN-BSN, was busy shuttling kids from after school activities, but took the time to share her experience as a hospice nurse for VNHCH.
She knew what she wanted to be from a young age, learning by example from her grandmother who was nurse. “My Nana was an RN. I grew up and was close to her. Her presence and compassion, always caring for others, and making others feel happy, made me want to do the same. Since then I always loved that idea of truly giving everything I can to make others happy and giving them the understanding and compassion that everyone deserves.”
While it was the natural environment and beautiful scenery that originally drew her to the Valley 5 years ago from Bangor, ME, it was the people that connected her with this very special community. “I like to take the time to be in people’s homes and hear their stories. I get to take a piece of their lives and live through their experiences here. I feel like I’m a part of it and have been made to feel very welcome.”
Working as a hospice nurse has its challenges. April shared, “It’s difficult knowing that no matter how hard you try as a nurse, you can’t always fix the problem and make it better. You want to see someone cured or get better - but you can’t always be in control.”
But the challenges are offset by what April sees as the wonderful opportunity to make a difference in her patients’ lives. “Seeing a patient with a terminal or chronic illness and their family, the best part of my day is providing them with education and support so they can truly care for their loved one at home. I help to give them a sense of peace, and to have a wonderful quality of life. They can be surrounded by their loved ones and living within their wishes.”
Like Margaret, April also praised VNHCH. “It takes a team to be able to have a successful home care hospice business. The nurses are always team players, even with so many patients. When that next patient calls you and needs you, the positivity and teamwork makes our company what it is.”
At the end of the day, April wishes that the community had a better sense of what hospice families have.”I’ve seen so many families miss out on the opportunity of hospice service.They don’t have to be actively dying. I would hope people would reach out and ask about our hospice service. They can call and ask a question about it. There’s so many misconceptions about it.”
For more information about home care, hospice care, and the incredible team of nurses at VNHCH, visit them online at http://www.vnhch.org/ or call 603-356-7006.