I have been a nurse 18 years and have worked in many roles and settings in the industry. I finally came to home care and found what I wanted to do with the rest of my career, which was to provide care in the community setting. I get to meet a lot of people, and sometimes it’s very discouraging when I see healthcare changing from a caring approach to a money approach. Then there are times I encounter those special people who are really in nursing to care and give back.
Susanna Cortez has impressed me with her kindness and humble approach to nursing. We received a referral on a patient who was living a good distance away; he was kind of isolated. This patient has no caregiver or family to help him. He had a medical and psychiatric history. He is over 500 pounds and is really a prisoner in his very small home. When we received the referral, his social worker said other nurses and agencies were in there before and couldn’t accomplish much with a guarded ,noncompliant patient. Susanna asked if we could try. We sent Susanna and other healthcare professionals out there to admit the patient to services. He wouldn’t open his door and would reschedule all the time. Many people just gave up. Susanna kept trying and, finally, with her approach and determination, she was able to get in. The conditions he was living in were so awful. He was so obese he was unable to shower for many months. With much effort and kindness, Susanna showered him herself. When she left there and came back to the office her clothes were wet. She never said one judgmental thing about this or even complained. When asked by others how she was able to do that, she said someone had to help this man. I was so very proud of her. This patient currently still has service with us and is doing much better.
—Nominated by Andrea Surette