Nurses’ Week: Kathy Peterson - A Home Health Nurse
Throughout National Nurses’ Week, May 6 to 12, Lake Regional Health System and the Lake Sun will celebrate the nursing profession with profiles of exceptional nurses working at the health system.
Like most nurses, Kathy Peterson, R.N., performs a variety of duties every day, but she doesn't work in a hospital or clinic. She goes directly to the patients, providing care in their homes.
“After graduating from nursing school, I joined Lake Regional Home Health,” Peterson said. “I liked the idea of working with patients in their home environments, and the flexible schedule was appealing.”
Peterson has been a Home Health nurse for four years, and she believes it is a perfect fit for her personality and strengths.
“I enjoy helping others, but I also enjoy the autonomy that comes with being a home health caregiver,” Peterson said. “I love moving from setting to setting and getting the chance to be outside more.”
A Day In The Life
On an average day, Peterson sees up to six or seven patients and the visits usually range from 30 to 60 minutes each. However, the patient caseload can vary, and some patients require additional time. No two patients are the same, and although her days have a similar structure, her tasks vary.
“I care for patients following joint replacement, heart surgeries, a COVID-19 diagnosis and more,” Peterson said. “The plan of care is individualized for each patient. My typical duties are creating care plans, medication review, disease management education, wound care, overseeing therapies and providing skill assessment updates. I collaborate with doctors on patient care and treatment, and I am responsible for updating patient records.
“Thankfully, my love of paperwork is also one of my strengths,” Peterson continued. “As a home health nurse, we are responsible for documenting the care we gave to each patient as well as their overall condition. Our team relies on detailed documentation to provide consistent care.”
No Standing Still
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected some aspects of Peterson's daily work.
“We have had to incorporate more Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when seeing our patients,” Peterson said. “Not getting the PPE wet can be challenging when you are gowning up outside and it is raining or snowing.
“But in many ways, the way I interact with patients has not changed,” Peterson continued. “I still customize my care to each patient because they don't all have the same opportunities, lifestyle or support systems. I have learned to adapt my teaching style based on the patient's needs, and I always try to be compassionate and understanding. For example, I was caring for a patient after a stroke and he couldn’t hear, so I used a whiteboard and picture board for teaching along with written materials.”
Peterson strives to educate each patient on how to manage their disease and when to seek medical care. What she finds most rewarding about her job is when her patients no longer need her care.
“I enjoy seeing patients improve and return to their prior level of functioning,” Peterson said. “We recently discharged a patient who had been hospitalized with COVID-19, when she came home she had viral pneumonia, and she was on oxygen. By the time we finished her care, she was off oxygen with improved lung function. Now she can easily get out of her home and back into the community.”
To explore nursing job opportunities at Lake Regional, visit lakeregional.com/careers.