For many nurses, there was a defining moment when they realized that nursing – taking care of others – was what they wanted to do with their lives.
That came a little later in life for Kate Laverdiere, RN, of Granby, who graduated from Springfield Technical Community College in May of 2012 with an associate’s degree in nursing. She was 29 at the time.
Laverdiere’s story begins with her aunt, who was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic laterals sclerosis) in May of 2009 and who died on April 9, 2010.
"My aunt was never married, and did not have any children, so during her time of need, I moved from my home in Granby to Worcester, where she lived, where I could help her and allow her to stay at home as long as possible,” Laverdiere said.
“In the last months of her life, our family moved my aunt back to Granby to live with my mother, who was her sister, and we cared for her here. We had hospice care for her and I remember the horrible feeling that I had during this time. I decided then that I needed to become a hospice nurse because I did not want any family members to feel the way that I did during that time,” she added.
Gained experience at Baystate Medical Center
Before actually becoming a hospice nurse, Laverdiere first worked at Baystate Medical Center in October of 2012, where she took care of patients on the neuro unit and gained experience. When a positioned opened at Baystate Home Health she transferred to work in hospice services where she has been for the past two years serving clients in Chicopee.
During National Nurses Week, May 6-12 – sponsored by the American Nurses Association – nurses throughout the country like Laverdiere, including others at Baystate Health facilities in the area, are being honored for the important role they play in making up the backbone of the American healthcare system. Today’s nearly 3.6 million registered nurses in the United States constitute our nation’s largest health care profession. Nursing offers a tremendous range of opportunity to those considering a career in the highly-respected profession, including practicing as clinicians, administrators, researchers, educators and policymakers.
“During National Nurses Week, we extend a special thank you to all of our nurses as they continue to deliver a higher state of caring to their patients in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment. Your pride and commitment to delivering compassionate care shows in the many ways you care for patients every day, all while embodying the principles of safety and quality so encompassed in the nursing profession,” said Christine Klucznik, DNP, RN, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services, Baystate Medical Center
Laverdiere noted she wouldn’t change being a hospice nurse “for anything in the world.”
An honor to serve her patients
"I feel that birth and death are two of the most intimate times in a person’s life and I consider it an honor that people let me into their homes to help their loved ones pass. There are patients that I have had in the past two years that I will never forget, there are definitely cases that are more difficult than others, but reaching those family members and helping them with the struggles that they are going through is so rewarding. I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to in life when a family member thanks me just after their loved one has died. It's truly an honor,” she said.
If someone were to ask Laverdiere about becoming a hospice nurse, she said she would start by telling them that hospice nursing is different than any other type of nursing.
“When I was working on the neuro unit at Baystate Medical Center, I had the mindset that I was saving lives. Going to a code and giving someone CPR hopefully meant saving a life. However, with hospice, the ultimate end goal is death, death with dignity as you guide someone peacefully and comfortably out of this life,” Laverdiere said.
Baystate Medical Center’s high quality nursing care has earned it prestigious status as a Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence – one of only nine hospitals in Massachusetts – a distinction that places the hospital’s nursing staff among the finest in the nation. Only about 7% of the nation’s roughly 6,000 hospitals carry this prestigious Magnet designation, and less than 1% have been awarded Magnet recognition three consecutive times like Baystate.
Learn more about Baystate Home Health.