By Cathie Wood, Director of Health Services
During National Nurses’ Week, I pause to reflect on my nursing career and first year at Hammer. I’m drawn to thoughts of why, more than 20 years ago, I made the decision to work in this profession. I was a DSP in one of the first intermediate care facilities (ICF) in Massachusetts, and I realized I had a passion for serving people. My work as a DSP was rewarding, but I wanted to do something more to advocate for the people I served. Looking at our ICF team, I felt the nurse’s role was the most capable of making significant change in the quickest amount of time. My course was set.
A few years later, I was finally a nurse; however, because of life’s circumstances, I was unable to work in the developmental disabilities services field. So, I worked for several large organizations and always found ways to balance person centered connections that were important to me with business demands that were important for the company. My goal always was, and still is, to help people have the best experience possible during their time of need. Working for these large companies gave me certain customer service and person centered health care skills. It was satisfying, but ever since starting at Hammer almost a year ago, I have a renewed sense of fulfillment, joy and satisfaction without end. I also believe this has translated into a better overall experience for my team of six nurses and, most importantly, the individuals I server.
Speaking of my team, they are amazing. At Hammer, I know the nurses go far beyond the call of duty every day. Actually, I’ve noticed that ALL Hammer staff dedicate themselves to giving the best support and care to every person they encounter each day. I’ve heard phrases about “work family” used in in almost every place I’ve been employed, but I’ve never truly seen it in action until joining the Hammer Family. Our dedication is certainly to the men and woman we support, but it’s also to the people we work alongside. I see in my team a combined effort and shared passion for our work that provides a quality of life not measured in dollars, but in life well lived.
From my perspective, I see Hammer’s nurses providing the highest level of care. They show me every day that they are willing to put in the extra effort to ensure that the people we support get the very best. The nursing team is a unique and valued asset at Hammer. This team brings a level of education, experience, commitment, compassion and care that is unmatched anywhere. Their ability to collaborate with teams of primary care providers, medical specialists, a variety of therapists, dentists, pharmacists, dieticians, case workers, insurance companies, families, program managers and direct support staff, per individual they support, is incredible.
The active, hands on approach Hammer’s nurses take allows them to build relationships with those we serve, which ultimately leads to higher quality care. Hammer’s nursing team provides complex medical advice and education, using a variety of resources and real-life examples, to help staff at our 46 home and apartment programs understand what they need to do and why they need to do it. The nurses give personal care as well as triage to equip staff with the skill and confidence they need to do their job if the unexpected happens. Every day, the nurses positively affect the health and overall quality of life of roughly 275 men and women. Through person-centered communication, timely and accurate nursing assessments, safe medication administration, monitoring, intervention, education, advocacy, technical skills and a host of other duties, the nursing team continuously enables each person they care for to live a healthy, safe and full life.
I believe we are surrounded by extraordinary acts all the time, and I have been fortunate enough to witness some of these moments through the nurses on my team. Simply put, Hammer nurses rock!