Nurse Executive Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich shares stories collected by the VA Office of Nursing Service (ONS) from nurses throughout VA and VHA who have demonstrated a commitment to Veterans’ well-being over the past year.
The VHA National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP) supports partnerships and emerging health innovations for Veterans and is led by Dr. Weistreich.
The American Nurses Association has designated May as Nurses Month, which honors nurses and supports the nursing profession. Nurses serve critical roles throughout VA whether they work in a clinical setting with patients or in other roles.
LA nurses assisted more than 1,000 homeless Veterans
In Los Angeles County, more than 60,000 people are experiencing homelessness and are more vulnerable to COVID-19. The Los Angeles VA Supportive Housing (VASH) nurse practitioners team have been working to identify Veterans in need and help them with medical, housing, COVID-19 testing and other needs.
“I know how demanding the job can be, especially during the course of the past extremely difficult year.”
This team has also moved more than 1,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness into open hotel and motel rooms. Due to the team’s testing and isolation procedures at these sites, there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks there.
The nurse practitioners of the team are Josh Robers, Janel Perez, Michele Seckington, Laura Nica and Kristina Cardenas.
Advanced Practice Nurses “All Hands on Deck”
National VHA Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) Council Chair Maria Colandrea thanked her colleagues for providing exceptional care to Veterans.
“APRNs have cross-trained to fill critical needs in emergency departments, intensive care units and general medicine floors,” she said. “Routine clinic visits have now become virtual, and day-to-day operations have changed drastically. APRNs at many facilities are leading efforts to meet the demand for staffing needs by working in drive-thru coronavirus screening tents, volunteering for deployments to COVID-19 ‘hot spots.’ The charge has been ‘All hands on deck’ to meet the needs of our Veteran patients.”
Back to work after surgery… on crutches
Emergency Nurse Practitioner Carolyn Storck in New Orleans has been a nurse practitioner for 20 years. She had surgery for tendonitis and a deformity on her heel bone, but in less than two weeks she returned to work to care for Veterans who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Storck was featured in People magazine for “her selfless act of putting the needs of Veterans above her own.” She was able to resume work thanks to a hands-free crutch on her leg.
“These are only a few inspirational stories of those nurses who serve Veterans,” said Dr. Weistreich. “There are nurses working all over the country who every day go above and beyond to use their skills, experience, compassion and tenacity to help those who have served this country. I know how demanding and rewarding the job can be, especially during the course of the past extremely difficult year. I am grateful to my fellow nurses for their dedication and service.”
For more information on HAP’s work, please visit va.gov/healthpartnerships.
Mikala Jamison is a senior writer for DCG Communications.