Stacy Pruitt became a certified nurse aide after witnessing the subpar care her grandmother received from a nursing aide in her small town. Suzanne Armistead became a CNA after seeing the excellent care her brother received. Andrew Stratman became a CNA after visiting his grandmother several times a day for about a year while she battled Parkinson’s Disease. “It was never a chore for me to help her,” he said. “I felt privileged to do it. It made me realize I have an aptitude.”
Personal experience has prompted many of our CNAs to choose their line of work. CNAs go through rigorous training and a state exam to get their license. It’s not just a career; it’s a mission. Our aides will often see a patient several times a week, and they develop close relationships. Not only do they provide hands-on personal care, they offer warmth, reassurance, and support.
A daughter of a patient wrote a message to Hospice Austin CNA Candelaria Gomez that sums up the comfort our aides provide: Candy, we always looked forward to your visits, none of us more so than Mom. Thank you for the loving care you took every time you cleaned, clothed, comforted her, and refreshed her bed and her spirits. “It’s a Candy Day!” she’d say on the mornings you were coming. We all were – and are – so grateful for sharing your loving spirit with us.
Hospice Austin currently employs 43 certified nurse aides. Some, like Ella Flowers, Rita Joseph, and Jane Gambill, have been here for over 15 years. Most aides see patients in their homes; some CNAs see patients in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Stacy and Suzanne both work out of Hospice Austin’s Christopher House.
The two aides make a good team. When a patient comes to Christopher House, Stacy focuses on welcoming them and making them feel comfortable and safe. As patients near death, particularly if they don’t have loved ones nearby, Suzanne surrounds them with warmth and love. She sings to all her patients as she bathes them, and Stacy has started singing to her patients also.
“Not only do we give comfort, we receive it,” Stacy said. “Patients are so appreciative and grateful for what we do – it’s a two-way street.”
Andrew says he learns life lessons from his patients that he wouldn’t learn in another career. His desire to provide the best care for them has caused him to take better care of himself through diet, exercise and meditation so that he can be there on whatever level the patient needs. Some patients, he says, need a lot of physical work while others have emotional concerns.
“Dying is an existential crisis for almost everyone,” Andrew said. “If there’s anything someone would like to talk about, I’m more than willing to listen. Being able to be there for the family is more than I can ever ask for and I enjoy it more than anything I’ve ever done. I have a heart for this work and our mission.”
Thank you to all of our CNAs for sharing their loving spirits and their commitment to our patients and their families. They contribute immeasurably to the quality of our patients’ lives.