Kathleen Rosa is Registered Nurse with FCS Home Care Services, part of a team of four registered nurses who oversee the daily care needs of our nearly 200 Home Care clients. As part of National Nurses Week, we asked Kathleen, whose nursing career has spanned five decades, to share her thoughts on being a nurse.
This week is National Nurses Week — a significant week for me as this year marks 50 years since I finished nursing school and began my nursing career!
I graduated from the Central Islip State School of Nursing, a hospital-affiliated nursing school, in 1968 and landed my first nursing assignment at New York Hospital in the pediatrics unit. A second pediatrics assignment followed at the Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospital in Manhattan, (now the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, an affiliate of the New York Medical College School of Medicine). I enrolled in the Baccalaureate program at Long Island University, and soon after, was inspired to change my focus by one of my nursing professors. She taught Public Health and had a newspaper photo of herself at work in Brooklyn on a bicycle with her nursing bag in a basket in the back. What could be better than that?!
Armed with my BSN, I set out on a lifelong career in Public Health nursing, starting with Suffolk County on Long Island and continuing with the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey after we moved our family to New Jersey. For roughly 35 years, I worked in the Community Health skilled care arena, honing my assessment skills and gaining experience handling the needs of the acutely or chronically ill and/or disabled. I officially “retired” in 2012, but it was short-lived. In 2013, nursing called me back and I found the ideal way to spend the last chapter of my career — working as Home Health nurse for Family & Children’s Service (FCS).
At FCS, our team of four registered nurses make home visits to the clients after receiving the referral from one of our FCS Social Workers. The social workers are the ones who determine that the client needs the help of a Certified Home Health Aide or a Supportive Aide and helps allocate the resources. As the admitting nurse, I do a full assessment of their functional level, and also their physical and mental status. We then set up the care plan, which is personalized to fit the specific needs of the client. Subsequently we make follow up visits to monitor the care and evaluate for changes of any type. Often-times we need to contact the doctor with concerns about lung sounds, pain, blood pressure, swelling, etc. On rare occasion, a call to 911 is needed. Education is also part of our visit. There are always questions about medications, disease processes, community resources, etc. Nursing continues to communicate with the Social Worker, reporting unusual findings, changes in a client’s support system, or recommending a higher level of care.
Our goal is keeping our community members safely in their homes, which is where they want to be. Many of our clients would need to be transferred to nursing homes or institutions if not for the placement of aides who can ensure their basic needs are met. I believe people who go into the nursing profession are motivated by caring and compassion. In community nursing we are given the invitation to enter the clients own environment, and we get a true picture of their lives. To me, that is a privilege, and I am honored and grateful to play my part in the process.
Our nursing class of ’68 has had many reunions over the years, but this will be a special three-day event in Florida. Four of these classmates have been my dearest friends, through the good times and sad times we all experience. Nursing, unlike other professions, bonds people in special ways, and those bonds last forever. Regardless of their area of specialty, we understand each other and what it means to be a nurse. We are defined by our caring and willingness to give of ourselves. I never had one doubt that this was the right career path for me.
I have been blessed to work with excellent professionals over the years, and today am happy to have a collegial team here at FCS who embrace the spirit of nursing, and carry that mindset into every interaction with a client.
Registered Nurse, FCS Home Care