Heather started with our unit as a new grad RN a little over a year ago. She comes to work every day with enthusiasm, and she has a special bond and connection with not only her patients but with all her co-workers as well. She smiles 100% of the time, even through tears! I have never worked with someone or met anyone as compassionate as Heather. She connects with everyone and can empathize with others in any given situation.
Over the past year, we have had a particular patient on our floor that has spent months with us. Heather was the first to volunteer to always have this patient when she was working. She fell in love with this little girl in a way that was so compassionate and nurturing. She treated her like she was her own child; her family was unable to always be at the bedside with her. She attended not only to her physical needs but to her emotional and developmental needs as well. She connected with the family and met with them outside of work to check on them to make sure their needs were met. Heather befriended the patient's mother and they became close outside of work. She would meet with her to have coffee, go for a walk, or just chat to make sure things were going ok. Recently, the patient mentioned in the previous situation was admitted to the unit for palliative support and end of life care. As soon as Heather heard of this, she called the unit and expressed an interest in floating to the unit in order to be able to care for this patient. The patient's mother wanted caretakers who were familiar with her daughter and who her daughter knew, to care for her. Heather came in on her day off to visit this patient (and Heather lives in Pawley's Island so has an almost 2-hour drive to work each way!!). After she visited with her, Heather came up to our floor and told me that as soon as she entered the patient's room, she heard Heather speak, and she woke up immediately to her familiar voice. Heather told me that the mother asked her if she would be willing to do the postmortem care for her. Heather told me she would be honored to and that she really wanted to be involved. I asked her if she was sure it was something she wanted to do, or if she felt like she needed to say yes because the mother asked her to, and she told me she definitely wanted to do it. She shared with me that she did post-mortem care for her Grandmother and that she felt drawn to it and really wanted to be a part of it. Heather told me she wanted to be there when the patient passed, and the unit was made aware and they were incredibly supportive in making sure this happened. Heather was concerned the patient would pass on a shift that she wasn't here, and we talked about how things happen when they should and we felt that the timing would work out on her scheduled shift, and it did. Towards the end of her scheduled night shift, Heather was able to go down to the unit to be with the patient and the patient's mother. After Heather's shift was over, she went back to the unit to stay with the mother longer and assist in post-mortem care.
Heather bonded with a family (who at times was known to be a bit confrontational) over their many prolonged hospital stays and when this family came in to have care at the end of life, Heather didn't just want to stop in and say goodbye. She wanted to be there to support them and our staff. She made this transition and death for this family as peaceful and seamless as it could be. Not many children pass on her main unit but her calming presence and support for the family were unmeasurable. She has a gift as a caregiver and I know I am thankful as was the family for her presence during this time.
And just to show how amazing Heather really is, she wrote this email to our manager to recognize her co-workers during the incident: I wanted to shout out some amazing coworkers from Thursday night! They took over care of my patients without hesitation or question so that I could be with our sweet angel and her family. They finished giving my medications, checked in on all of my patients, and gave report for me at shift change. If it wasn't for their amazing teamwork and compassion, I wouldn't have been able to be there and for that, I am forever grateful to them! I just wanted to thank these girls from the bottom of my heart for making it possible for me to be there, it means the absolute world to me. The kindness they showed me is something I will never forget! The teamwork we have on our unit is something special and should be celebrated.