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RN Sees Strength and Compassion in Home Health Nursing 

For some, it takes years into adulthood to find your calling. For Heather Lambert, RN, she knew her calling was to be a nurse for as long as she can remember. It only took a summer volunteering at UMass Memorial Medical Center during high school to cement her decision.

“I saw nurses as women who are strong, intelligent, and compassionate. As people who make a difference in people’s lives, are well respected in the community, and help others at their most vulnerable times. That’s something I always wanted to be a part of,” said Heather.

She joined VNA Care’s home health care team three years ago and has the opportunity to engage with patients on a more personal, individualized basis than other health care settings.

Heather said, “Patients can give us a very specific goal we can help them achieve like, ‘I want to be able to get up and down my stairs. I want to be able to walk to my mailbox.’ You can actually see these things and do them with the patient.”

She’s cared for countless COVID-19 patients during the pandemic as well as patients who are at particularly high-risk for the virus and others with wide-ranging medical conditions. Many of her patients have lived in isolation with the exception of her visits.

“We’re a sense of security for these patients, and we’re keeping them safe at home too,” said Heather. “It’s a whole new level of care. I’ve kind of been a phlebotomist the past year. It’s required us to double-down on our assessments and our reporting and trying to keep people out of the hospital.”

She often spends a lot of time teaching her COVID-19 patients about managing their condition, including how to monitor blood oxygen levels, which can drop to dangerously low levels in those fighting the infectious disease, as well as the signs and symptoms of respiratory distress, deep breathing exercises, and how to use an incentive spirometer (a device that will expand one’s lungs by helping one breathe more deeply and fully) to help the lungs recover. Some patients are new to using oxygen and others are “deconditioned” because of prolonged bed rest and inactivity.

She’s seen firsthand the unpredictable nature of the virus. One of her patients was in their 50s and led a very active lifestyle before the virus. This person was someone that most people would have thought would pull through without any problems, yet the patient now needs oxygen continuously and is short of breath with even the slightest exertion.

Serving as a nurse during the past year has made a lasting impact on Heather.

She said, “All patients teach you lessons of kindness, patience, compassion, and strength. They also teach you that health is the most valuable gift.”

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