Home and Community Based Nursing Team at Erie VA Medical Center

Home and Community Based Nursing Team

Home and Community Based Nursing Team at Erie VA Medical Center

Erie VA Medical Center
Erie, Pennsylvania
United States
Dorene Sommers, RN, BSN, MBA, ADPCS; Joan Mushrush, RN, Unit Manager; Cathy Parke, RN; Yvonne Rhoads, RN; Rich Galbraith, RN; Josh Dolecki, RN; Kristy Clark, RN; Deanna Scharf, RN; Terri Dewey, RN; Anna Dylewski, RN; Kelly Heffern, RN; Cathy Liebel, RN; Mary Alice Kaliszewski, RN; Julie Stralko, RN; Amy Tabatcher, LSW; Chelsey Kirk, PSA; Heron Warren, CRNP; Kari Svirbly, RN; Dayna Sholes, RD; Julie Roussos, CRNP; Dawn Nolin, RN; Brian Hemme, RN; Sherron Brinker, LSW; Stephanie Murray, LSW; Marianne Schneider, RD; Diane Lachner, RD; Bob Cooney, OT; Anne Schwabenbauer, PsyD; Lori Lyth-Frantz, PhD

As a longstanding member of this team, and now as a supervisor, I have had the pleasure of watching this group of dedicated and hardworking caregivers provide extraordinary care to the VAMC's most fragile patients for over 10 years. Together, we care for over 300 Veterans, many in their 80s and 90s. These Veterans often have no caregiver and may have no family nearby. Not only are we helping them with managing their health issues, often we are providing emotional support, grief counseling, and companionship. We know their life stories, their struggles, their military contributions as well as their personal battles that came from their service, and often take the place of the family they do not have. During my tenure with this team, we have alleviated food insecurity, addressed frequent exploitation issues, transitioned many into higher levels of care, attended funerals, memorials, and offered ourselves to these Veterans in so many ways that go above and beyond the traditional job description. We have taken collections, donated clothing, held hands, dried tears, and are often the only constant in the lives of those who suffer from despair and loneliness. Although we work traditional work hours, there is not one individual among this team who would leave their post for the day if there was any Veteran who needed to have an urgent need addressed. Overtime is a byproduct of caring for these vulnerable individuals. Challenges include driving in blinding snow, shoveling out vehicles, working in homes that are deplorable and infested with a variety of pests, flat tires, accidents with large 4-legged creatures, and any number of unforeseen circumstances. In most positions, time off is covered by co-workers. In these positions, staff rearrange their patient schedules to allow for time off and consequently the time before and after leave results in an additional workload. There is no complaining, just cooperation with the knowledge that Veterans need care and we will provide it, no matter the cost.

I could not be more proud of this team and cannot envision working anywhere else as the satisfaction gained by the care we provide is something I cannot even put into words.