Nursing Supervisor Takes a Holiday

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    In September 1993, I began a full-time position as a Skilled Nurse doing visits and shifts for a Home Health care agency. I had sporadically worked some midnight shifts for this agency six months prior to joining full-time. Meanwhile, I had been working 12 hour midnight shifts full-time at a small local hospital on the Med/Surg unit and in the ER. I decided to leave that position when the Home Health position was offered. I loved the one-on-one relationship with the patient and family. And, as an added benefit, I would be making a better salary.

    After about a month of working full-time as a visiting nurse, I was offered the position of Nursing Supervisor. The Administrator and Director of Nursing noted that they believed me to be "a motivated quick learner". My responsibilities would include management of the cases and the staff providing Skilled Nursing services to the Medicare hourly and visit cases.

    Medicare had recently begun authorizing benefits to homebound Psychiatric patients. The Administrator of the Home Health care agency requested that I institute a program to serve this population. Having had a few years of Psychiatric experience, I was qualified to institute and manage such a program, according to Medicare guidelines. To the best of my knowledge, it was the first "At Home Mental Health Care" program in the Midwest.

    It was exciting to think that I was on the cutting edge of patient care. I had ten years experience working as a staff nurse in a hospital setting. Now, I was managing staff and cases in a Home Health agency while instituting a revolutionary new program!

    I worked diligently, learning the responsibilities of my position and setting up the new program, when the Christmas holidays rolled around.

    Skilled Nursing shifts and visits are typically a chore to cover, when many of the nurses have either regular full-time positions or work elsewhere for other agencies. The Christmas holidays are even a bigger chore, as most of the nurses are committed to other jobs, or merely want to spend quality time with their families.

    The Staffing Coordinator informed me one of the cases I managed had an open midnight shift she could not get coverage on Christmas Eve. The patient was an 18 year old female who was on a vent as a result of her neuromuscular disorder.

    I have no children. My wife was planning to spend the holidays visiting some out-of-town relatives stayng at her mother's house. My absence from the festivities Christmas Eve would not hinder anyone's happiness to any great degree. I opted to work the midnight shift. I believed that it would not only provide the needed Skilled Nursing care, and keep the agency in good standing with the client, but would also be an example to the nurses I managed: Their Supervisor was ready to pick up the ball and run it in when times got tough.

    Then, the Staffing Coordinator informed me of another case she was experiencing difficulty covering: An elderly male patient, currently in the hospital, was being discharged Christmas Eve. He had been hospitalized as a result of an exacerbation of his chronic cardiac condition. The Attending Physician would only authorize discharge if a nurse would assess the patient within 24 hours. No Visiting Nurses were available to assess the patient and open the case.

    I reviewed the patient information and his home location. I could, relatively easily, open the case on the way to my midnight shift. It would be a long night, but I foresaw little difficulty.

    "Little difficulty" is an understatement. I experienced the joyousness of families comforted by the visit of a medical professional to oversee the care of their loved ones during this "holiest of holidays".

    It was an experience I love to recall.

    One morning, a few days after Christmas, I recieved a telephone call in my office. The call was from the daughter of the elderly man whose case I had opened on Christmas Eve. She called to inform me that her father had passed away, just that morning. But she didn't call only to give me news of his passing. She wanted to let me know how much she and her family appreciated my involvement in their lives. Had I not been able to provide Skilled Nursing services for her father, he may have not been able to be discharged from the hospital. He may have not been able to spend his last Christmas at home with his loved ones. For this, she was very, very grateful.

    I hold that appreciation in my heart to this day.
    Last edit by Davey Do on Jun 16, '10 : Reason: syntax/spelling
    JenRN30, krisiepoo, Liddle Noodnik, and 22 others like this.

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    About Davey Do

    Davey Do has '35' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Psych'. From 'Godfrey, IL'; 57 Years Old; Joined Jun '10; Posts: 4,419; Likes: 11,074.

    Read more articles from Davey Do

    20 Comments so far...

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    I love your last few paragraphs...making a difference in people's livesis what it's all about. How kind of his daughter, while in the pangs of grief, to give you a call...
    RetRN77 and Davey Do like this.
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    Thank you for your comment, dscrn. You truly understood the essence of the story I was attempting to convey.

    When it all comes down to the lowest common denominator, all we really want is someone there who cares. That's the important thing. And that daughter's kindness in calling me while in the pangs of grief was life-changing. I learned that the important thing was not WHO I was, but WHAT I was doing.

    This situation also changed my life, in that, to this day, I will work every weekend and every holiday. Magical things happen when the mainstream is off the clock.

    Thanks again.
    Last edit by Davey Do on Jun 15, '10 : Reason: typo
    RetRN77 likes this.
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    Davey Do, that was beautiful. Thank you. Here in the South when a family member passes away the "church ladies" all get together and take food to the house. My Daddy didn't live down here, but he wanted to be buried at the old home place cemetery circa 1810. His elderly aunt lived alone in the old home place house..she was about 83 at the time. As the ladies asked me what to do about the food I said let's have it at Aunt Margaret's.

    It was freezing that day and actually snowed which is a rare thing, so she stayed in the house. When the ladies started arriving with the covered dishes she was thrilled. Somehow she interpreted it as Daddy's last wish. We all walked the path up to the house after the ceremony and seeing the joy on her face took away most of my pain that day at burying my father. Aunt Margaret lived another 4-5 years, and every time we'd visit she'd bring up the wonderful church ladies that brought Daddy's dinner to her house.

    He was buried on a Sunday (another rarity at the time) and that night my family and I went to church. I still had my black dress on, but I wanted to thank the ladies in person. I can see your patient's daughter feeling just the same way. You brought tears to my eyes and happiness to my soul with your story.
    RetRN77 and Davey Do like this.
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    Thank you so very much for your comment, P RN. And for your own touching story. You paid homage to your father, Aunt Magaret, and the church ladies. A heartfelt thing to do in the throes of grief.

    Isn't this one of the great things about being a nurse? And this website? We get to share our knowledge, experiences, heartfelt feelings, and heartaches.

    I must pay a word of tribute here. I recalled this time in my life due to reading gladyscruz's wonderful article, "You Think She May Come and See Me Today?" It set off a flood of memories for me.

    And, it's like Charles Schultz said (through his character Linus Van Pelt): "Love is like jam- we can't spread even a little without getting some on ourselves."

    Once again, thank you. And bless YOUR heart.

    ( I have to add this to the edit: As a child, I heard the phrase, "bless your heart". I loved it, and use it regularly. Then, as an adult, a nurse friend told me, "Down south you can talk bad about someone as long as you 'bless their heart' afterwards." Is this true? If it is, I don't mean it that way.)
    Last edit by Davey Do on Jun 17, '10 : Reason: I'm fully awake now
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    Very moving. These are some of the touching moments that make me proud to be in this noble proffession. God bless you davey do
    Davey Do likes this.
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    I have read that too Davey Do. I've never said it in that manner, but I'm sure that veiled criticism is hidden by many a phrase. It's probably a combination of paperback authors and truly shallow people thinking they are being subtle and clever.
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    Olgie-

    Thank you for your comment. I like your reference to nursing a being a "noble profession". To serve others in their time of need truly that. When we strip away all the personalities, politics, paperwork, the bureacracy and the bull hockey, it all comes down to serving others. Sharing stories of serving others helps to remind me of what I'm doing here. Discovering this website has given my feelings towrd my career a little boost.

    It's good to have a little pick-me-up now and again. Communicating with like minds does just that. I have my co-workers/friends where I work. We help to buoy each other on in tough times. And, we're good companions when there's smooth-sailing.

    This website is like a candy store. And I get to be the kid. I get to pick and choose the topic I want to read bout, learn, or discuss. It, too, obviously, is a buoy for many in a stormy sea.

    Thanks again for your comment, Olgie.



    P RN:

    It's interesting that you referred to paperbacks in connection with the phrase, "bless your heart". The nurse who made that reference reads her share of paperbacks. She probably made reference to the phrase after I used it with her. She is a very good nurse with a good sense of humor. I'm sure she meant nothing derogatory- she was probably being more humorously endearing.

    That's one of the things about regionalistic colloquialisms- they are often interpretted diferently by different people. I just wanted to make clear my intention. I got to learn something in the process.

    So now I can easily say, "Bless your heart, P RN!".



    Oh gosh- I neglected to comment on the portion of your statement that reads, "veiled criticism is hidden by many a phrase". I love that! It is so poetic! May I use it? It would be such a good way to identify out passive-aggressive behavior without being caustic. If not, that's okay, too. Thanks.
    Last edit by Davey Do on Jun 18, '10 : Reason: neglect
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    Davey, of course you can use any caustic or non caustic poetic or just blessed phrasings I may pass on aggressive or not. I found this perfectly awesome site that includes bless your heart, collard green sandwiches and microwave grits.......Villines Internet Humor Archive - Bless Your Heart

    By the way do you push the elevator button or do you mash it?
    Davey Do likes this.
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    P_RN:

    It just doesn't get any better than this.

    Thank you so much for the kind reply and the truly humorous link.

    I had to ask my co-worker what you meant by the "push or mash" question. To answer your question, I usually take the stairs. Both for exercise and in order to avoid answering such questions.

    People also still refer to "dialing" the telephone number. I don't think I've dialed a telephone since the early 1980's.

    We could have opened a whole new can of worms: Are people in the South referring to the act of dialing the telephone as "mashing the numbers", while people in the North are "pushing" them? Both could just refer to the act as "dialing"? However, "dialing" is an archaic action. Who knows?

    But, thanks for the feedback.

    Toodles.
    P_RN likes this.


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