Grab a mug of your favorite beverage and get comfortable. In this blog I would like to share my personal journey as a nurse in the event my story may be helpful to others pursuing becoming a nurse entrepreneur.
Most nurses enter the field out of the desire to help and serve others. My career started in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of a Children’s Hospital as an RN and later transport nurse. The NICU is an amazing place. It is an action filled, high-tech, fast-paced environment. Of course there were tragic situations, but many success stories. After weeks and sometimes months, it was so gratifying when the parents could take their precious child home.
While expecting our first child, I went back to college graduating with a Master’s Degree in nursing, specializing as a Board Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. The Lord led my career in different directions, mostly geared around our families’ schedule. When our children became school-aged, I returned to college to earn a credential in school nursing working in the special education program for the severely disabled. Many of these children spent the first part of their lives in the NICU related to prematurity or other health conditions. I felt it was a full-circle opportunity and God’s purpose for me at that time.
Chatting with a Mom one day, I asked her what her family’s plans were over the Christmas break. With a sad smile, her reply was to stay home and take care of their youngest child. The two older children had been begging to go to Disneyland for years, however their youngest had multiple complex health care needs. For this family there weren’t any available options that they were comfortable with. The family had not gone on any trips or had a vacation since their son’s birth.
Pondering on her words later, a light bulb went off … what if? I prayed for many weeks pondering this question. I strongly felt God calling me to open a business to care for children with medical fragility. For months, evenings were spent researching what entailed opening a respite facility for children with special needs. Thankfully, my husband believed in the idea and supported me fully. We dug into our savings, borrowed money and took a second mortgage on our home to purchase a home with two acres of property. We remodeled the home to fit the needs of the children with disabilities. There was a lovely backyard with gardens and a play area even fitted with swings for children in wheelchairs.
The next year was spent writing protocols and procedures, going through the hoops of becoming licensed and certified. Over the next eight years of ownership,our family had the profound pleasure to serve these children. Our logo was “A home away from home.” We became an extended family sharing the joys and sorrows of life. We offered daytime skilled nursing services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, music and art therapy. We worked closely with the school system and other community agencies. Owning a private business, I was able to openly share the message of salvation and pray with the staff and families. Several children were on hospice. The staff and I were able to comfort and support the families through prayers and acts of kindness and compassion.
Every other weekend we provided overnight respite from Friday morning to Sunday evening. Twice a year during school breaks we offered a week-long overnight respite. The family I wrote of earlier finally were able to go to Disneyland with their family knowing their youngest was in good hands.
When each child arrived to the facility, I would do a thorough nursing assessment making sure they were free from any infectious condition and assess the status of their health. I had a ritual of sitting with each of them for a few minutes, silently taking the time for them to transition. Many of the children were nonverbal with visual and hearing impairments, but they knew me,the staff and the facility through feeling vibrations, smells, sounds and touch. I would squeeze their hands, sing softly to them and say, “I see you.” They would smile or laugh squeezing my hand back. It was a special moment of welcoming them and acknowledging them as a whole person, without disabilities, a unique, individual, perfect child of God.