Ask her colleagues what words best describe Gerry Sanderson and you’ll hear: mentor, leader, teacher, resourceful, the real deal. Her clinical manager Lori Mahoney says, “Gerry represents the very essence of what a nurse is: a continuous learner, continuous mentor, and continuously resourceful and responsive to the ever-changing challenges in healthcare.’’
Gerry has been a nurse at Norwell VNA Hospice for over 12 years. An active member of the Alzheimer’s Specialty Team, Gerry is the agency’s go-to nurse for Alzheimer’s care, spending both professional and personal time researching and studying best practices in dementia care. A consummate student, Gerry takes advantage of clinical workshops and advanced study programs, getting her certification as a gerontological nurse several years ago, and this past year taking the necessary coursework to become a Certified Dementia Practitioner.
In addition to carrying a full caseload, Gerry mentors our student nurses from UMass Boston School of Nursing and nurse practitioner candidates from MGH Institute of Health Professions. She oversees clinical field experience for an average of 40 nurses per year, but her teaching extends even further into the reaches of Norwell VNA Hospice staff, colleagues, and patients’ families. She has been instrumental in our agency’s successful participation in Project ECHO-AGE with Harvard Medical faculty physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In this virtual grand rounds program, Gerry has thoughtfully presented cases that have challenged our patients and their families. Her goal is always to find more effective ways to meet the patients’ needs.
She is quick to share her knowledge with everyone and identify learning opportunities for others. At one local assisted living community she visits, residents feel she’s part of their family because she is so compassionate and caring towards them and the staff is grateful for the wonderful resource they have in Gerry.
Clinically, she does what it takes to get the job done again and again. One example is a weekend visit she made to a dementia patient who was just returning home from the hospital. Trying to reconcile the patient’s medications, Gerry discovered that the patient had put all of her medications together into one bottle. It was a Saturday and the doctor’s office was closed, so Gerry used her iPhone to take pictures of each medication. She then matched the drugs to a resource book and confirmed with the pharmacist what each pill was and its respective dosage. Had she not taken such steps to clarify the medications, the patient surely would have ended up back in the hospital, or worse.
If Gerry knew we were even nominating her, she would be shocked. She sees what she does as what every nurse should do and that’s what makes her such an inspiring role model to all of us, clinicians and non-clinicians alike.
—Nominated by Joan Wright
Gerry is the best nurse. She is at the center in Hingham and a big help to all of us here.
—Nominated by Ellen Fahey