As a social worker on the postpartum unit I have the unique opportunity to be able to impact someone's life within the short period of time that I have contact with the patient. The nurses on the postpartum unit also have this opportunity and I want to tell you about one nurse in particular who makes a significant impact in the patient's lives on a daily basis.
Kate Hinely is the kind of person that has never met a stranger, so when a new mom has Kate as a nurse, they receive so much more than basic nursing care. Kate, in particular, seems to have quite an impact with the teen moms that she forms a special bond with. Recently, Kate was working with a teenage mother who was recently placed into foster care due to her own family's unstable living conditions and homelessness. Before I even had the opportunity to speak with the patient Kate told me, "I just love this patient! I already gave her the same speech I give all of the teen moms. I told her that she can do it. She can be a good mom and complete high school. I told her that I believe in her".
During my assessment this patient she was very guarded, quiet, tearful, and hid most of herself under her blanket. She reported that she has been struggling with depression since being placed into foster care and was frustrated with the lack of autonomy given to her even though she would be turning 18 in a few months. I spoke with Kate after I completed the assessment, informed her of how it went, and updated her with additional information that the patient had told me. Later that shift when I saw Kate again she came to me and told me she had just spent an hour with the patient and her mother (who currently remained homeless) talking to them, and crying with them. Kate talked about how she provided emotional support to them and reinforced to the patient that she is strong and able to do anything she wants if she puts her mind to it. Kate verbalized how much this patient had impacted her personally and how she wished she would be able to do more for her. What Kate didn't know, is that she made much more of a positive impact on that patient's life then she could have ever imagined which was clear when I went to see the patient the next morning.
I needed to see the patient again to provide some additional resources and it was almost if I was in the wrong room because the patient was so different. She was bright, smiling, happy, and eager to be discharged. I have no doubt that the care that Kate gave her was exactly what she needed to give her confidence and help get her through her hospitalization. Being a teenage mother who is currently in foster care is a very stressful and unique life change and Kate went the extra mile to make sure this patient knew that she was a very important person. With Kate's empathic listening and unconditional positive regard, she helped her realize that she is worthy of love and support. Kate let her know that she saw her for the amazing person that she is, despite her current situation, and that Kate was here to help her. Those reinforcements and positive affirmations are something that every teenager, especially this patient, does not hear often enough, or maybe at all.
Kate went above and beyond with this patient and her mother. Kate could have easily just said "that's not my job or responsibility" but that is not the type of person that Kate is. Kate works to establish rapport, provide excellent nursing care, and make an impact with every patient that she comes into contact with during this crucial period of change in their lives. She embodies every quality that a nurse should have and I thoroughly enjoy being able to work with her.