“There’s no ‘typical’ day as a nurse,” shares Kathy Bassiacos, RN, BSN, Geriatric Care Manager at Unicity Senior Advisors—especially not now given the current shakeup of the world from COVID-19.
“I mean, who would’ve thought that I’d set aside a few hours each week to go grocery shopping for my patients since not all of them can retrieve their own food, toiletries and other essential items and then leave the bags, which I douse with disinfectant spray, on their doorsteps?” continues Kathy. “It’s because I recognize my patients need me and, truthfully, I’m honored to help in any way that I can.”
Recalling last week’s grocery drop-off, the nurse of over 35 years highlights her dementia patient, Jane*, who was vocalizing her boredom amidst the lockdown. “She kept saying that she felt disconnected,” admits Kathy. “And I know that it’s particularly tough for her since she’s in an assisted living facility while her husband, John*, is in a nursing home.” This situation prompted Kathy to deter a bit outside from the staple shopping list. Instead, knowing Jane’s interest in reading, Kathy made sure to secretly stuff a new paperback book into her delivery.
“She couldn’t stop smiling,” she happily remarks.
In addition to grocery shopping, Kathy helps her patients remain in-touch with loved ones. In the case of Jane, Kathy provides daily updates of John’s health and even connects the couple on the phone as often as possible. “I used to drive Jane to see her husband twice a week and spend several quality hours with both of them,” explains Kathy. “But now we have to be a little creative.”
With over three decades of nursing experience in oncology, geriatrics, assisted living and home care, Kathy admits that no amount of training could have prepared a clinician for this pandemic. Determined to keep her patients’ health at the forefront, though, she has since transitioned her mindset for the time being to one focused on “crisis management mixed with adaptability.” Kathy adds, “For all patients, not just Jane, we have to think differently while continuing to go above and beyond.”
Kathy’s patients are the elderly, which are the most vulnerable and at-risk for being negatively affected by the coronavirus. “The elderly, with or even without a pandemic, have always required a bit more tender, love and care,” shares Kathy. Prior to this outbreak, a few of her responsibilities include helping families with their long-term decision planning for their aging loved ones. Some scenarios, she notes, involve helping to locate nearby nursing homes or assisted living facilities, or being a conduit for locating necessary specialist physicians for next steps in treatment plans.
Kathy also plays an essential role in ensuring that a patient’s care is accomplished appropriately. Sifting through a mental checklist, Kathy is constantly asking herself, “Is this patient seeing the right doctors? Is the patient eating enough nutritious food? What about socializing? Are all of the medications properly working together to help keep this person healthy?”
“You become an integral part of their family by extension of being part of their healthcare family,” Kathy says. “It’s fulfilling to see a patient feel comforted, appreciated and properly cared for.”
Having this career vision since the age of 11, Kathy has always imagined herself as a nurse. “In fact, I used to volunteer at a local rehabilitation facility and help feed the older people,” she recalls. This passion for ‘giving back,’ she says, seems to have trickled down her bloodline, with all of her children contributing to the overall betterment of society’s health and wellbeing: one daughter is a nurse in the emergency room setting, one is a teacher and one is in the process of completing her degree in community health education and is looking to pursue a role in the field of nursing.
According to Kathy, being that the Year of the Nurse is overlapping with this pandemic, nurses now, more than ever, are seeming to be more highly recognized for their work. “Nurses really play a significant role in the healthcare continuum and it’s a job that brings about an overwhelming sense of pride,” she says.
“Working at Unicity Healthcare,” says Kathy, “is an honor because I constantly work with like-minded individuals. We all share the same level of commitment, passion and skills—which is all critical to our mission.”
Unicity Healthcare wishes all nurses a Happy Year of the Nurse—and would also like to specifically recognize Colleen Komorowski, Kim Piombino and Kathy Bassiacos. We appreciate all that you do to help us in the delivery of excellent, compassionate care. Visit UnicityHealthcare.com to learn more about our healthcare organization.
*Names have been changed in the article to protect the privacy of our patients.