Every day, VNA clinicians are in the community making a difference. Each of them are inspired to do what they do for unique reasons, and they continue to grow as they experience new challenges and highlights on the job.
From May 6 – 12, a VNA nursing champion was featured on the VNA Facebook page. Please join us in celebrating their inspirations, ambitions and accomplishments. Together, their stories – archived below – tell the tale of the vibrant VNA family.
Heather Marquardt | RN | BSN | Community Health
“I always want to learn, and that drew me into wound ostomy nursing,” Heather said.
During her time as an ICU nurse in Milwaukee, Heather was inspired by ostomy nurses’ ability to independently assess a wound and make a knowledgeable treatment recommendation.
So, she became one herself. The VNA in Colchester hired Heather three years ago and sponsored her wound certification process, which she completed last year.
“For ostomy patients, it’s always a life changing surgery and they need all the support they can get. It’s often a very emotional time for them. They’re learning to eliminate waste through their belly and it can be traumatic. If it’s an emergency surgery, they’re not prepared for it. It can be a lot of denial, a lot of anger. As a nurse, you really try to come from a compassionate place and put yourself in their shoes.”
Heather, too, has a strong support system. (Beyond her three children and the family members and neighbors who ask for wound advice – some through pictures.)
“I like the comradery component between nurses. You make friends and start to be able to really rely on other people and get to know them in that way. You trust them and they trust you, and you depend on each other.”
Deborah Melhuish, RN | BSN | Essex Adult Day Program
“I’ve always had a real passion for helping people. Since I was a little girl, I knew I would end up in a medical profession. I had a lot of experience on the other end of things, as a patient, during childhood. I experienced firsthand how medical professionals are the light that get you through everything.
Now, I get to be on the other side of it. Nursing gave me the path to give back and help people in a really special way. It’s very rewarding for me.
I love Adult Day. It’s community-based nursing with patient-centered care. The bonds and relationships we form with the participants are on such a deep level. They’re like another family to me. I care deeply for them and I think that allows me to give them better care.”
Dawna Stowe | RN | Home Health Services | Clinical Nurse Lead
“When I came to the VNA as an LNA, I found a mentor here that just blew me out of the water. I wanted to be just like her. She helped grow my desire, and I eventually got my RN certification.
Lori Crowley was very supportive, informative and took the time to educate me. She was so knowledgeable, patient, kind, caring and an effective problem-solver. Back then, we didn’t have the electronic devices we do now.
In my present role as clinical lead, I get to be that patient person and provide the education I looked up to her for back then. I acknowledge that was me once – the one with all the questions.”
Kacey Sonia | RN | Hospice and Palliative Care Case Manager
“I was placed at a VNA in Massachusetts for a summer job in high school, handling hospice medical records. My idea of hospice was vague; I just knew it was people dying. But I quickly learned there’s more to it.
I worked at the same VNA all throughout nursing school, then got my first RN job here in Vermont. It’s exhausting both emotionally and mentally, but at the end of the day, it’s a good tired.
Sometimes, when I’m in somebody’s home, surrounded by their entire family at their bedside, or just did a pronouncement and the family is there, I’ll stop and think: Who gave me the right to be here? How did I end up being a part of this extremely vulnerable time in these people’s lives? You really do feel privileged. You feel like a part of their family.
Often, it’s a short but intense period of time. Being in their home, you learn a lot about people by the way they live. And a lot of people die the way they lived.”
Mary McDermott | RN | BSN | Long Term Care PCA Supervisor
“I’ve been a nurse for 48 years, 14 at the VNA. The opportunity is there to meet some really great people. I’ve had people as clients for 14 years and you can have all the best boundaries in the world, but you get to know them inside and out over that amount of time.
I’ve worked in hospitals, hospice and with severely handicapped children and adults, and a lot of the things I learned early on is you keep accumulating knowledge every day.
Training PCAs is important to me, because their education is going to impact the people who care for me when I get to be a client. It allows them to better understand the complexities of what we do. And I love what I do, so them seeing the purpose and love is very important.
Education is vital in terms of how we pass on the torch.”
Marjorie Gadue | RN | BSN | Private Care | Foot Care Clinic
“In my early 20s, I was really sick and in and out of the hospital. The nurses were the ones that made me feel better and listened to me in the middle of the night when I was scared. Then, I became close friends with a nurse. I would look at her and say, ‘That looks like a really great way to pass the day.’
Years later, I was vacationing in Mexico and broke my ankle parasailing. I came home and got surgery, and again, it’s the nurses. I was about to turn 40, and I said if I don’t try, I’ll never know.
Foot care is this little thing you can do for somebody that makes them feel better instantly. It encompasses why I wanted to be a nurse. It’s one-on-one time with somebody, and you get to be this bartender. They’ll tell me their life story, and they’ve been through so much.
It’s human touch. You help with ingrown toenails, calluses, plop lotion on, rub their feet and they think they’ve died and gone to heaven.
In 13 years, I’ve seen some feet. But I’ve had people with tears in their eyes, because they’re so grateful.”
Barbara McKennedy | RN | Nurse Educator | MSN Ed, anticipated for June 2018
“I like the holistic approach of home nursing, and looking at the whole person. You get the one-on-one with the person and their family, which allows you to really address their concerns in their own environment, at their own pace.
And you get multiple opportunities to work with them. It’s not quick – it’s taking the time to get to know people and their needs. To develop a rapport. And it’s very individual to who the person is.
Nursing brings a lot to the community, including well-being and health for where you are at that point in your life. It’s important to be non-judgmental, accept people for who they are and share information so people can make decisions for themselves.
I keep a very positive outlook. During times of change, I encourage people that it’s going to be okay.”