Honoring the helpers and healers
From the Burlington County Times (5/7/13)
They no longer wear starched white uniforms and white stockings. They do much, much more than take temperatures and give meds.
But for nurses, despite all the changes in the world and in their profession, the bottom line remains the same.
“I’m a nurse because I want to help people,” said Brandie Wooding of Willingboro. “That’s why I’m here.”
And “here” in this case, is a hallway at the Virtua Memorial’s Maternal Child Health area in Mount Holly, at the nurses’ station checking on the status of new moms and their babies.
As National Nursing Week is celebrated annually, this year beginning on May 6, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, regarded as the founder of modern nursing, Wooding and the country’s nurses are being recognized for their service, their professionalism, their commitment to others.
Often described as an “art and a science,” nursing is that challenging hybrid which involves mind, heart, skill and sensitivity.
And when it comes to labor and delivery, and those first hours as babies and mothers bond, nurses at Virtua Memorial do what they regard as some of the most vital, and rewarding, work in the profession.
“I thought I was going to be an obstetrician,” said Wooding, who then began counting up the amount of time and cost of that route, and decided that nursing was a better decision for her. She earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing, and has never looked back.
After doing labor and delivery nursing for several years at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, and feeling the drama and joy of actual birth with patients, she has shifted gears and become an assistant nurse manager, helping to direct the nursing activity and patient-nurse interaction in the maternal child health area.
“This is generally the happiest place in a hospital,’” said Wooding as she briskly reviewed records and checked on patients who had recently delivered babies.
One of those patients, Kathleen Roscovich of Palmyra, was getting acquainted with her newborn son, 9-pound Timothy Jr., her second child and first boy, as Timothy Sr., the proud dad, looked on.
Just one day after her cesarean delivery, Roscovich, a clinical social worker, was marveling at how good her birth experience had been.
“I was constantly checked on by the nurses, and everyone keeps offering to help me,” said Roscovich, who still needed advice about the fine art of diapering a baby boy.
Nurse Sharon Jenkins, a 21-year veteran of bedside maternity nursing, was on hand to advise her to “do it fast!”
Also on the floor, where moms and babies almost always become roommates immediately after birth, were nurses Julie Greenfield and Angel Bey. The consensus of opinion about some of the challenges of nursing, they agreed, had little to do with the long hours and physical demands on nurses.
Greenfield and Bey spoke of the regulating agencies that have added complexity to a nurse’s typical day, and the endless electronic recording that also add to the professional responsibility.
But the agreement was unanimous among the Virtua nurses who deal with labor, birth and post-partum care that their profession brings them enormous gratification.
And it was clear that education and support are among the top priorities in this bustling but joyful area of the hospital where new arrivals take up their first residence.
The nurses are all breast-feeding advocates, deeply committed to encouraging moms to nurse their babies for the sake of their health, and for the bonding it offers.
For moms who, for various reasons, go through the birth experience alone, labor and delivery nurses often play a critical emotional support role, said Donna Sterner, a unit secretary for labor and delivery at Virtua Memorial.
“Because of where we’re located, there are lots of military families around here, and sometimes the dad is deployed in a distant place. That can be very difficult for the mom, and the nurses really offer those moms all the help they can,” she said.
Perhaps new mother Roscovich, who was lucky enough to have her husband by her side, offered the thoughts about nurses that best sum up the nobility and vital connection of nurses to patients.
“These are the people you see during some of the most amazing times in your life, and the times when you may be most needy,” she said. “I think that they’re absolutely wonderful people.”