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Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse Specialists Work Towards Goal of Helping Patients Get Better, Faster 

Alyssa Gray, RN, BSN, WCC, discovered her true passion as a visiting nurse when she began caring for a patient whose wounds would not heal, putting the patient at risk for a potentially life-threatening infection. Alyssa was determined to find a solution.

“It’s more than doing a dressing change. We’re teaching people about their diet, fluid intake, medications, signs and symptoms of infection, and everything they can do to help their wounds heal faster,” said Alyssa.

The patient had Alzheimer’s disease and wasn’t able to care for herself, so Alyssa collaborated with the patient’s daughter. She helped the family get an overlay mattress to improve circulation and prevent further pressure ulcers.

Alyssa treated the wound and taught the daughter about the ways she could support the healing process. Their collaboration paid off. Alyssa, with the encouragement of her VNA Care colleagues, pursued certification in wounds and ostomies and is now part of VNA Care’s team of wound, ostomy and continence nurse specialists. The team is a resource for the agency’s clinicians and also work directly with patients and their loved ones.

“The fact that VNA Care has a team of WOC nurse specialists is huge. We can take a challenging situation and work collaboratively towards the common goal of helping patients get better faster,” said Alyssa.

The team not only helps with the physical aspects of care. Patients are often dealing with life-changing procedures. One of Alyssa’s patients had diverticulitis, an inflammation or infection in pouches in the digestive system. The patient’s treatment included colostomy surgery so that waste would be redirected out of the body through the abdomen and into a special bag.

Although the surgeon anticipates reversing the procedure in a few months, the patient is still dealing with the emotional upheaval as she adjusts to a different way of life.

“Three months out of your life might seem like a short time to a person looking in,” said Alyssa. “But to the person who’s living it, the time can be filled with anxiety, hopelessness, fear and so many other difficult emotions.”

Alyssa offers an empathetic ear during her visits, recognizing the importance of mental health in addition to physical health, and provides much needed support. She values the trust patients place in her and the one-on-one time she’s able to spend helping them reach their health care goals.

“I love my work. I can’t see myself doing anything else,” said Alyssa.

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