Tracy Hanson, president of Blanchard Valley Hospital’s Nursing Congress, represents 667 bedside nurses within the health system. She organized several events throughout National Nurses Week as “a big thank you” to the nurses at BVH. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

By SARA ARTHURS

Staff Writer

National Nurses Week is wrapping up, and nurses at Blanchard Valley Hospital spent the past several days being celebrated by their peers. Several nurses, however, said the work itself is quite rewarding.

Tracy Hanson is president of the hospital’s Nursing Congress, “the voice of the bedside nurse” collaborating with other hospital leaders. She is also the inpatient diabetes coordinator.

Hanson represents 667 bedside nurses within the health system, and organized several events as “a big thank you” to them. Nurses often go home from their shift “emotionally and physically exhausted,” so it’s important to get a pat on the back, she said.

Hanson began her health care career working in registration at another emergency room. She fell in love with nursing by “watching other nurses do their thing” — and she wanted to do the work herself.

Through the years, she has been a hospice, surgery and emergency room nurse. At Blanchard Valley, she started as a traveling nurse, before being offered a permanent position. Hanson commutes from more than 70 miles away, and said it is worth it — and that she listens to a lot of audiobooks on the road.

She said one of the biggest challenges is helping patients and their families navigate the health system, such as determining what is and is not covered under insurance.

Most rewarding is building relationships and “being that advocate for the patient … the ears to actually hear.”

Diabetes, she said, is a complicated disease. A patient may need to hear a piece of advice multiple times before it sinks in, and Hanson finds it rewarding “just seeing their eyes light up when it clicks.”

Val George is a nurse in the intensive care unit. She said the job can be very busy and sometimes stressful, but it’s rewarding to see patients get better. And, she said, no two days are alike.

George has been an RN for 30 years, and was previously a LPN. She said she started as a “baby nurse,” and went on to mentor other young nurses.

She began her nursing career in high school, as a nursing home aide. She loved the work, and felt called to a career in health care. She earned her RN degree, but never went back for her bachelor’s, as “I’ve never wanted to leave the bedside.”

If a patient is in her care for an extended period of time, “we get to be attached,” George said.

In addition to patient contact, she likes that the job gives her a chance to solve problems. She said technology allows health care professionals to do things they couldn’t do when she began her nursing career. In addition, Blanchard Valley has recruited doctors in more specialties to Findlay over the years, meaning fewer patients need to be taken to Columbus, she said.

A sadder part of the job is that sometimes you can give patients comfort, but “you can’t make them better.”

Sami Kaloger had been told she would be a good nurse, as she had the personality for it.

Spending 12 hours a day with patients — some of whom are at the hospital for multiple days — she likes that she gets to learn about patients’ lives and gets to know their families.

She said nursing is “one of the most rewarding careers,” and she is proud to be a nurse.

Julie Adelsperger said she had always found anatomy interesting. And, she said, she loves being able to help people in their time of need.

Adelsperger, 22, said sometimes she’ll meet a patient and their spouse and learn they have been married 65 years or more.

Nursing can be stressful sometimes, especially caring for cancer patients, and you may see both the beginning and the end of life as a nurse, Adelsperger said. But she said she would “absolutely” recommend the career to others.

Megan Wentz has been a nurse for 13 years, the past two and a half of them at Blanchard Valley. What inspired her?

“My mom,” she said. “She was a nurse.”

Wentz said some days involve more clinical care, and others more “being there emotionally” for patients. It’s rewarding to see people feel better, Wentz said.

The Nursing Week observation included a reception Monday, and a banquet with lights, flowers and a speaker — “honestly, it’s more like a prom,” Hanson said. Nurses also received awards, including nurse of the year, humanitarian, humorist and rising star.

Hanson said health care providers donate prizes for a drawing, and one of the providers also serves as master of ceremonies each year. This garners bragging rights, Hanson said, because the nurses chose that individual. This year, it’s Dr. Thomas Grace.

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Twitter: @swarthurs

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