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Home Health RN Honored to be Welcomed into Patients' Homes and Their Lives

Behind the Scenes with Heather Bliss, RN, Case Manager 

Heather Bliss, RN, and her sister have both dedicated their careers to nursing. They often find themselves comparing their experiences — Heather in home health care at VNA Care and her sister in an emergency room.

“I give the hospital nurses all of my respect, but sometimes I don’t think people realize what home health care truly entails. It’s a lot more than going in and checking somebody’s blood pressure and making sure they are taking their medications,” said Heather.

As an RN case manager, Heather helps patients with a wide range of complex or chronic health conditions as well as injuries to regain their health. The field demands sharp clinical skills. Nurses work independently in patients’ homes and can draw on the expertise of VNA Care’s nurse specialists in wound care, IV therapy, and other disciplines.

One of the patients Heather came to know well was a woman undergoing chemotherapy. When Heather first visited, the woman was doing poorly. Fluid would build up around her lungs, making her feel short of breath. She had a device known as a PleurX drainage catheter to remove the fluid, but the process could be painful. The patient was reluctant to take pain medications for fear she’d become addicted.

Heather earned the patient’s trust, and the patient agreed to try her pain management plan. Over the coming months under Heather’s attentive care, the woman rebounded. Her pain was under control, the drain for fluid around her lungs was removed, and chemotherapy was effectively fighting the cancer. Heather was able to discharge the patient, who remains at home with the support of her son. Heather appreciates the periodic text messages the son sends letting her know that his mother’s cancer is in remission and that she thinks about Heather all the time.

“There’s nothing like being at home when you are sick and being around the people you love and the environment that you’re most comfortable in,” said Heather. “For patients to allow me into their homes and into their lives — there’s just something very special about that.”

Heather’s love for home health care began when she was a teenager. She knew she wanted to be a nurse, and initially ventured into health care as a volunteer at a Veterans Administration Hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit and working as a home health aide caring for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease and other conditions in their homes. These valuable experiences helped her determine that the home setting was where she most wanted to be.

After taking time to travel, marry, and become a mother, she decided it was finally time to pursue her goal of becoming a home health care nurse. Heather joined VNA Care’s home health care team nearly a decade ago as an LPN. When she decided to pursue becoming an RN, her colleagues became her biggest cheerleaders. Juggling motherhood, full-time work, and school, including clinical rotations in various health care settings, was no small feat. Heather achieved her goal and became an RN last year.

“I went on different paths in my life, but everything always went back to nursing,” said Heather. “I absolutely love being a nurse.”

Learn more about VNA Care's home health care services.