CAREERS IN NURSING
ABOVE AND BEYOND – THE HEART NEVER STOPS FOR HOSPICE NURSES
by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Robyn Hattey said there is not anything in particular about hospice care that drew her to the field as a nurse. She loves taking care of patients in all capacities and is a nurse for all seasons of care.
“From start to finish everybody needs to be taken care of. As a nurse you do whatever you have to do,” Hattey said. “So to me it’s all about providing good care to the patient on any level.”
She has been a registered nurse for 23 years. Today this RN serves as director of Clinical Services at Humanity Hospice, located in Oklahoma City. She entered the nursing field soon after she earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Southern Arkansas University.
She worked in women’s services prior to her role in hospice care. She joined the team at Humanity Hospice in June after serving in hospice for three years.
Hattey was still in high school when the idea of becoming a registered nurse sparked. Her mother was a nurse and inspired her career, she said. Her mother also did labor and delivery, but was a stay-at-home mom the entire time Hattey was growing up in Arkansas. Today she likes working for a fairly new hospice that is growing with rapid success. It will be moving to a new and larger office in Edmond. Hattey said she chose Humanity Hospice to center her career because the hospice is patient driven.
“They focus and center everything around meeting those patients’ needs,” Hattey explained. “And again to me that’s the most important thing that we can do. In all aspects we put the patient first. It’s something they do here that I believe in as well.”
“It’s just the fact that they want to grow. They want to be able to branch out as far as they can to give the right amount of care to anybody that they can reach.” Hattey admires the nursing staff including the certified home health aides. Everybody is a team player, she said. The nursing staff will go above-and-beyond to make sure the patients are taken care of regardless if it’s a patient they normally see.”
Patient driven care at Humanity Hospice is not regulated by whether it is day or night time, she said. The Humanity Hospice staff works in the field at any time to keep patients feeling comfortable, she said.
“Everybody here is compassionate. They are thoughtful and respectful,” she said. “They take their job very seriously. So to me, it’s not always about the title at the end of their name. It’s about the care they can give to those patients.”
Home health aides work in the trenches, she said, to see that their clients have a shower, even when it means the aide does not have any extra help at a facility. It’s all about unconditional love.
“Sometimes our patients are combative and they still love on them and go back and take care of them the next day,” Hattey said.
Even the marketing team knowing that a patient has a birthday or special event coming up will make sure that special time of their life is recognized and celebrated. It may be the patient’s last birthday and for Hattey, it is something to celebrate in the journey of their lives, she said.
“We don’t let that slip by and not be important,” Hattey continued. “We try to make sure that if there’s family, that there is family present. You know if they’ve been in a long-term care facility for a long time that staff is included because that’s their family as well. So everybody just goes above-and-beyond.”
Other team members play a vital role in the circle of holistic care provided by hospice. There are social workers and chaplains. She said there is not anybody on staff that a member of the nursing staff can contact to say a patient needs something in particular on a given day.
“You get out there and make that happen for them,” she said.
The nursing staff at Humanity Hospice is prepared to be in situations when people are in a profoundly vulnerable point of life. In hospital, patients will see nurses going through the steps of being a nurse, she said.
“If you’re going to be a hospice nurse you need to love it. You have to want to make that end-of-lifetime special and meaningful for that patient. You can’t just go through the motions,” she said. “The heart never stops caring.” A month ago Hattey was a back-up nurse when one of the nurses was already visiting another patient. She had to go out to a death at a facility.
“I had never laid eyes on this patient. I don’t know her,” she said. “But because she’s our patient and she’s passed, you can’t help but cry when you walk in the room. And her family had made it there before I did. So they are all standing there and I came in.”
Hattey had to go through the hospice steps of preparing the patient and speaking with a physician. But in the back of her mind she knew this patient was alive a few hours ago.
“She was still that person. So you don’t ever get used to that. Every time you know they’re going to pass, like I said even though I didn’t know who she was. You still cry.”
Sometimes family members’ lives are changed in that they want to give back to people after seeing what hospice nurses gave to their loved one, Hattey said.
She knows the value of life and has three children so her children occupy her time outside of work. They range from middle school, high school and college.
“They consume me,” she said. “My oldest son is in pre-med.”