May 2022 - Nurses Spotlight
Why did you choose to become a Nurse, specifically a hospice/palliative care nurse? What feels the most rewarding for you?
Elizabeth Hoppe – Honestly, I was a caregiver before I became a nurse. I had a couple that I cared for that I adored. I spent the majority of my day getting them up, ready for the day, breakfast, and more. We always sat and reminisced about their life, time in the war, how they met, and that really pushed me into the healthcare field. Hospice was not something they advertised out of nursing school. I got the opportunity to meet with Jim and Trish, and then I was sold. I wish they always advertised to come to hospice after nursing school, you truly get your fulfillment of WHY you went to nursing school in this field.
Juanita Gunn – I became a nurse because I love interacting with people of all ages, race, creeds. Giving your time and care to someone is the greatest gift anyone can receive. I chose hospice nursing after I lost my Aunt Patricia who was a nurse. She always encouraged me to strive for something bigger, especially when it came to caring for patients.
Why do you choose to be a part of the Transitions Care team? What keeps you excited about coming to work for Transitions every day?
Elizabeth Hoppe – I have been a part of the Transitions Care team for nearly 5 years. It’s just a part of my life now. My Transitions family is my core, and I couldn’t imagine the day-to-day without them. When they say hospice is a lifestyle, it truly is. You live it and breathe it every day. I chose to continue to stay because this place is considered home.
Juanita Gunn – I chose Transitions Care for the philosophy our CEO set when it comes to our patients and their families. I have amazing co-workers, I’ve built great relationships with families and patients, and I come to work every day to support our families and my team.
Kristine Taylor – I have always known that I would be a hospice nurse. I chose Transitions Care because the Transitions Care model provides care to our patients in a way that no other hospice provides. The way we provide our patients the care they deserve always recognizes our patients as unique and individualizes their care needs. We ensure that “No patient dies alone” and incorporate all team members as part of our vigil. I love that all of our employees have been “called” to hospice and truly have a fundamental core to do the right thing for our patients and band together to provide the support to our patients and their families. Not just at the end of life, but for the entirety of the decline journey.
I get excited to come to work knowing that in my role as Clinical Support and Development Coordinator, I (along with my teammates) am part of growing Transitions Care in our new states and new sites. We begin to ignite the new staff members passion for the “Transitions Way” of providing the highest quality of care to our patients. I get to provide support and guidance, mentorship, laughter, and celebration to all disciplines in each new branch or license. Every day, my heart is so full of blessings that I am part of this team and I am so grateful to be able to come back and do it all over again.
What do we do at Transitions to go above and beyond for our patients and their families?
Juanita Gunn – Being supportive of our patients and their families from the initial phone call to the visits, and supporting them while they are going through this difficult time.
Kristine Taylor – At Transitions, our motto is “It’s about living!” I am in awe of the thoughtful and creative ways that our staff show this in the care they provide. It can be the little things like picking flowers and taking them inside so the patient who used to love to garden can smell, touch, feel, and enjoy something that they once loved doing. We bring them their favorite snack, listen to their favorite music, and celebrate milestones such as birthdays or anniversaries. Our patients and their families may not get that “next time” or “next year” opportunity so we give them smiles, laughter, and joy in the moment… every moment! I’ve been known to show up in my unicorn costume just to make someone’s day better- recently, we had a late night Elvis karaoke night with a PT that was anxious and needed some special 1:1 time with her, and another special memory was celebrating a 40th wedding anniversary. When I learned of their anniversary on a visit, I went to the store and bought a card, balloons and a cake. The same colors as their wedding and the patient’s favorite flavor. We took pictures together so they could send them to their kids and then I asked the facility kitchen to puree the cake for him so they could eat it together!! Those moments to me are the most impactful.
How have the past couple years in the Covid-19 pandemic shifted your day-to-day as a Nurse? Any new processes/procedures? Challenges?
Elizabeth Hoppe – Challenges in burnout. I think that goes to say for any healthcare worker. With that being said, something that I truly value is the relationships that I have with my employees and my patients. Taking the time to know them as a person is what makes a difference in how you lead your team.
Juanita Gunn – During Covid-19 my day-to-day as a LPN did change. When I saw patients pre-Covid, I always held their hand, sat close, gave a hug, but all of that had to change. That quickly became the biggest challenge for me personally, and it was difficult not being able to hug family, especially when it was needed.
Kristine Taylor – COVID has most definitely impacted my day-to-day as an RN. I’m a hug-a-holic, so not being able to hug my patients and their families during their decline and passing was the absolute worst. In the height of COVID, our patients and families were scared for us to come into their home. They needed us but they were afraid of us bringing the virus into their home, so they often decreased services out of fear and that was hard to manage. Some of our facility patients were often without the support of their family because the facilities had restrictions. I take pride in being with my patients and walking them through every step of the journey so they are prepared, and at times I felt helpless. Transitions met that challenge and added on many technology platforms to allow us to see our patients via telehealth and remote patient monitoring, but the lack of human touch was most difficult for me in my day-to-day.
As a Nurse, how have you learned to navigate difficult situations or discussions with patients and families?
Elizabeth Hoppe – The hardest part of hospice is that you have to deal with emotionally vulnerable patients, families, and sometimes facilities as they all grieve differently when it comes to our patients. Navigating these emotions can be so difficult, but it’s often what our patient, family, and facilities need. Always asking them what their plan of care is, easing their fears, and anticipating their needs. It goes a long way when you can help the patient, family, or facility identify their need or their emotion.
Juanita Gunn – As an LPN, during any difficult situations, I learned to navigate by always listening and never dismissing any patient or family. Being calm during any situation or discussion will cut the tension with anyone, and if the situation is not solved, at least there will be a better understanding from both parties.
Kristine Taylor – As an RN, I think I learned how to navigate difficult situations and discussions with patients and their families by starting with empathy. I often begin those types of conversations by asking them what they know about their illness and what they would want to know. I find that there are some patients or family members who are on opposite sides of the “what would I want to know” spectrum. So, for those situations, I may provide the minimum that they would like and then ask them if they want to remain present for the remainder of the conversation to answer other important parts of the conversation for the other party involved. I never want to upset anyone but I always want my patient and family to know what to expect and how to manage it best as it relates to their goals of care.
How important is teamwork in the Nursing environment?
Elizabeth Hoppe – Teamwork and grace are the two things we need to survive in healthcare. Any healthcare individual can vouch that some of the strongest relationships are with other healthcare professionals.
Juanita Gunn – As an LPN, teamwork is very important to ensure the day goes smoothly. In my prior role as ECT LPN, I worked alongside four amazing women in an environment where things could start out good and suddenly became critical. Our team communicated well and was able to get the job done. As Call Center Manager, my team of CCR and LPN’s work together to make sure we are supporting all regions when patients and their families call. Communication, critical thinking, and feedback amongst the call center team has given better insight on how to support our patients, families, and co-workers.
Kristine Taylor – To me, teamwork is everything! I believe that every person- from leadership, to the CNA’s, to the chaplain, to the social worker, and everyone in between, plays an important role in the care of our patients. Each person supports our patients’ needs in different ways, but it takes a village and an amazing TEAM to make every day meaningful for our patients while supporting them in their journey.
Do you have any specific professional goals for 2022?
Juanita Gunn – To continue to support my team as the Call Center Manager and be successful in this role. I’m considering elevating my licensure from LPN to RN in the future.
Kristine Taylor – My personal professional goal for 2022 is to continue to support Transitions, Transitions’ employees, and Transitions’ patients as we grow into the new states. I’d like to continue to develop and grow my skill set to maximize my ability and step out of my comfort zone to be considered for future opportunities within the organization.