Tales from the Nation’s Top Home Care and Hospice Nurses
Nursing is our nation’s most trusted profession, says the latest Gallup poll of Honesty/Ethics in Professions. This finding comes as no surprise since nurses have topped the list for 14 of the past 15 years. “Nurses consistently get these high marks because of their empathy, professionalism, and compassion,” said Val J. Halamandaris, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). To honor their achievements, NAHC and its affiliate Home Healthcare Nurses Association (HHNA) have held their third annual Nurse Recognition Program. This year, like previous years, thousands of agencies nationwide sent in their candidates for America’s top home care and hospice nurses.
The 50 winners we feature stand out for their clinical skills — and their compassion. In the pages to the come, you’ll meet a Georgia nurse who sang with her patient to gain his trust. You’ll hear from a New York nurse who gave a frightened young mom the confidence to finish school. You’ll meet a Kansas nurse whose teenage patient is thrilled that she always gets the IV in on the first poke. You’ll meet an Arizona nurse who holds ice cream parties for a patient with Down syndrome and dementia. You’ll meet an Iowa nurse who turned a patient’s home into an ICU so he could end life in the place he loved most. And you’ll hear from a Delaware nurse who made a diagnosis that escaped several docs.
The expertise of nurses like these has led to repeated calls to expand nurses’ scope of practice. Recognition of nurses’ skills inspired the Home Health Improvement Act, which would let nurse practitioners order home health care — and highlighting what nurses can do is the goal of our recognition program. Our winners met a number of strict criteria established by a selection committee made up of members from the HHNA advisory board, NAHC’s board of directors and its Forum of State Associations.
The selection committee asked all agencies to submit an essay about their nurse and answer a variety of questions: Does the nurse’s story paint a positive picture of home care and hospice? Does the story show that the nurse provided exceptional care? Does the applicant demonstrate excellence in nursing through credentials, awards, and honors? Did the applicant make a difference in their patients’ lives? And do they inspire us to be our best?
The home care and hospice nurses who appear here are among the finest, as the committee determined by vote. The committee also voted for the top 10 contenders for Home Care & Hospice Nurse of the Year. Now it’s your chance to decide which of them will make the cut. From Friday, July 11, to Monday, September 30, NAHC members and the public can go to www.nahc.org and cast the final vote from this select group of nurses.
The celebration of their achievements begins when you read their stories. It continues in October when NAHC invites the 50 nurses to its Annual Meeting & Exposition in Phoenix, Arizona. NAHC will waive their registration fees for the meeting and honor them at a reception. The top 10 nurses will receive a $70 gift certificate from Hopkins Medical Products, now marking 70 years in business. Hopkins will also give a $140 gift certificate to the Nurse of the Year, and NAHC is taking added steps to recognize the top nurse by paying their travel and hotel expenses in addition to giving them a new Apple iPad.
This very special nurse will appear on stage at the Annual Meeting. “It’s a unique chance to put a face on our industry,” said Andrea L. Devoti, RN, chairman of the NAHC board. “Our focus is to highlight the impact that nurses make day in and day out in homes across the country,” despite the challenges they face. “It’s time for the public to honor nurses and thank them for all they contribute,” said Elaine Stephens, RN, NAHC executive VP and HHNA’sHH current chairman. “This is our chance to remind everyone how hard it is for nurses to do their vital work while facing senseless cuts in reimbursement.”
What inspires nurses to carry on in the face of shrinking resources, growing regulations, and patient loads that get heavier each year? You’ll get the answers from some of the country’s best nurses who all know home is the best place for patients to heal. The stories to come bring home this point as our 50 nurses express love for their patients and their work. Which of them deserves to be Home Care & Hospice Nurse of the Year? We trust you to decide.