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VNA Care Nurse Specialist Named Clinician of the Year for Massachusetts

You only need to talk to Susan Carrigan, RN, BSN, WCC, OMS, for a few minutes to understand why she was named Clinician of the Year by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

She is passionate about ensuring VNA Care’s patients receive the best possible care, whether providing it herself, educating colleagues, or deepening her nursing practice.

“It’s all about the patients,” said Susan. “I love taking care of people. That’s where my heart’s always been.” Susan’s commitment to caring for others took root while working as a medical assistant at a physician’s practice. She pursued her nursing degree while working full-time and raising her children. Susan joined VNA Care seven years ago as a home health care nurse, caring for patients with a wide range of complex health concerns.

While VNA Care’s visiting nurses work independently in patients’ homes, they draw on a wealth of clinical resources, including nurse specialists. Susan’s collaboration with a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse specialist inspired her to pursue certification in this field. She was promoted to the position of Wound, Ostomy, Continence (WOC) Nurse Team manager earlier this year. She manages a team of eight WOC nurse specialists, serves as a subject matter expert for her colleagues, and visits patients needing specialized care.

Catherine Frasco, MSPT, DPT, COS-C, vice president of home health operations, said, “Susan treats her work as a true calling, and will tell anyone and everyone that she loves what she does and it’s not a job to her.”

VNA Care is one of only a few home health care agencies in the state with WOC nurses on staff as a resource for patients and families. These patients’ conditions are often life-altering, such as ostomies (an opening in the body that allows waste to drain into a bag) or painful wounds that will not heal and interfere with living life fully. When Susan and other members of her team visit a patient, they look beyond the ostomy or wound to get a complete picture of the situation.

“Everybody is an individual,” said Susan. “Their home setting is different. Their body is different. They heal differently. I tell patients we’re going to keep taking a different approach until we find the one that works for them.”

Susan’s expertise impacts patients she may never meet. Nancy Ryan, PT, clinical services manager, shared that Susan has “spent countless hours with valuable wound care education, best practices, and endless support with challenging cases. I appreciate Susan’s support just about every day of the week — she’s always available to answer questions and share her expertise.”

While Susan is grateful to be recognized as Clinician of the Year, she’s quick to point out that everyone at VNA Care is dedicated to helping patients and families receive the best possible care. She added, “I love what I do. I feel that I’m giving patients what they need and deserve.”