Each year, Americans recognize the vital work of nursing during National Nurses Week from May 6-12. With Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) and other health care workers representing more than half of the LightBridge team, we took the opportunity during National Nurses Week 2018 to speak with two of our full-time nurses, Sarah Joseph (RN, CHPN) and Ann Burkett (LVN), about their passion and profession. Here’s what they had to say.
Early and Ongoing Involvement
“As a team, the nurses are essentially the first and last people patients see in LightBridge’s continuum of care,” Sarah said. “It really is an all-encompassing role.”
At LightBridge, the RN functions like the quarterback of the team. As case managers, they are instrumental in working with our patients and their families and caregivers to develop an initial plan of care unique to each patient. They subsequently collaborate with the other healthcare professionals who round out the team (LVN, spiritual care counselor, social worker, and home health aide) to create a comprehensive and dynamic plan specific to the needs and preferences of each patient.
Ann added that LightBridge’s nursing approach addresses not only the clinical care that LVNs specialize in delivering, but also physical, emotional, spiritual and social care.
“Yes, the top priority is to address and treat their physical symptoms, but we also realize that’s only one contributor to quality of life,” Ann said. “On a human level, we’re there to help them make the most of the time they have, with as little pain and fear as possible, so they can focus on treasuring their relationships.”
Love Every Minute
Some might assume providing nursing care involves an 8-hour workday – but that’s rarely the case. LightBridge’s care continues when our offices close, with nurses on call and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff is flexible and committed to meeting the needs of our patients any time of the day or night.
“I love every minute of it,” Ann said. “Knowing we’re helping patients have their best days, even under difficult circumstances, is incredibly rewarding.”
Ann, who connected with many LightBridge nurses as a private caregiver before earning her LVN degree and joining our team, said LVNs are responsible for supporting every phase of nursing care from symptom management and medication to safety concerns, RN requests and patient education.
Sarah, too, makes many patient visits each day throughout the San Diego area. She is able to balance patient involvement and nursing oversight thanks to Ann and the rest of LightBridge’s LVNs.
“I tell patients, ‘Even if I don’t have eyes on you, I will have eyes on you,’” Sarah said, personally praising and thanking Ann for all she does.
Sarah found her calling in end-of-life care while attending nursing school; she simply has what is known in the profession as the “hospice heart.” What she loves about working with LightBridge is the patient-centered care. She explains:
“In a hospital, doctors make decisions, and everybody follows; it’s traditional health care. In hospice nursing, we take into account the patient’s goals, beliefs and values. The patient and their family are involved in creating their care program, which eventually leads us to become an extension of the family.”
Ann echoed Sarah’s sentiment, saying that LightBridge’s one-on-one relationships with patients and lasting bonds with their families are what make our organization so special.
We like to say our work at LightBridge is about helping our patients and their loved ones create meaningful moments and everlasting memories.
In addition to medical care, nursing visits might include complementary therapies such as aromatherapy, playing their favorite music, and discussions about simple gifts that would bring meaning to their journey, consistent with our integrative approach to care.
“Whether making room for their family or being the family they might not have, to see them at peace in their final days and moments is very important to all of us involved,” Ann said. “We’ll brush their hair, hold their hand, and do anything and everything we can to comfort them.”
Even as a life wanes, there are lighthearted moments. Sarah told a story of a younger gentleman in his early 60s who was being cared for by his son and daughter-in-law. They had been playing soft, soothing music, which seemed to somehow increase his agitation. It turned out that he really wanted to listen to Grateful Dead. When she changed the music, she could see the gratitude and resolve in his eyes.
“He went out to Grateful Dead, and wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Sarah said. “It was a matter of him living out his final moments as who he was, rather than what someone else was going to prescribe. The family found it to be a beautiful passing with comforting closure.”
LightBridge is extremely thankful for all of its wonderful nurses – not just during National Nurses Week, but every day of every week.
“I am truly privileged and honored to work with such an incredible team of professionals,” said Jill Mendlen, RN, President and CEO of LightBridge. “They make a difference every day in the lives of the patients and families they touch. Speaking not only as LightBridge’s founder, but also as a nurse myself, I am in awe of their dedication and commitment.”