By Maggie Pascucci, LMSW
Lindsay Parker is a registered nurse (RN) who came to Wildwood five years ago after her husband Jarrod, at that time a Wildwood employee himself, encouraged her to apply for an open nursing position in the residential department. Jarrod loved both working for Wildwood and the values at the core of the agency and knew that Lindsay would be a perfect fit for the position. After Lindsay applied and was interviewed by Kari Van Denburgh, the director of nursing, she was hired and excited to join the nursing team.
Lindsay currently works with a number of people who live in supportive apartments. She also works at one of Wildwood’s 24-hour supervised IRAs (a group residence), called Latham Apartments, which 14 people call home. Providing nursing services in a residential program is a different experience from doing so in a doctor’s office or hospital setting. She is working in peoples’ homes, helping to manage their needs and support their best health with the assistance of a group of people including a team leader, managers, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and DSPs who provide staffing services to the residents. Lindsay works collaboratively with her teams in a supervisory capacity overseeing the administration of medications and treatments, helping to coordinate appointments with medical providers, attending more complex appointments and communicating doctors’ orders for treatment. She also provides guidance and support through an on-call system when team members raise concerns about the health of an individual.
Working in a home environment provides both benefits and challenges. She is able to spend much more time with people, developing trust and building relationships with the people she supports. This is a direct contrast to her previous job working on a trauma/medical surgical unit at Albany Med, where contact with patients was limited to their length of stay. Lindsay has developed connections with the people she supports as well as with their families, with whom she communicates to share information about their loved one’s health. She and the staff are also in regular contact with individuals’ many doctors and providers to obtain orders for everything, including over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers and cough drops. She relies on the staff to report changes in someone’s wellbeing so she can address changing needs as they occur. As she says, “we all work together to make sure our individuals are taken care of and their health is top priority.”
When reflecting on nursing during a pandemic, Lindsay recognizes firsthand the stress that COVID has brought to the lives of individuals, families, and staff. On top of “business as usual” (making sure people attend appointments with doctors and specialists, responding to medical crises that require ER visits and hospital care, and providing ongoing support to both individuals and staff), nurses are now monitoring symptoms, checking temperatures daily and supporting people in quarantine when exposures to COVID have occurred. Following guidance around COVID from OPWDD, Lindsay and her teams have implemented safety protocols to reduce the spread of infection, while explaining to the individuals they support the importance of such precautionary measures of mask wearing, social distancing and washing hands. Given the vulnerabilities of many people who have pre-existing medical conditions that put them at greater risk of the complications COVID can cause, protecting their health is of primary importance.
Lindsay summarizes her experience at Wildwood as follows: “We have such a great team of nurses; I feel so lucky to work with them and work here. Latham apartments and Latham supportives are great teams and they care about the individuals so much.” She says it is the people she supports that keep her at Wildwood – the connections she’s made, and the genuine care she has for them. There are many reasons she stays at Wildwood, but they top the list!