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Judith is a board-certified nurse at the CHA Everett Hospital working in the geriatric psychiatry unit. While the work can be demanding at times, the payoff is incredibly rewarding, she says. That’s because Judith feels part of a dedicated team of health care professionals who are working to ensure the health and safety of some of the most vulnerable patients that CHA cares for: Older adult patients who present with dementia or other psychological issues.
Judith has been working for CHA for seven years and chose CHA because of its community feel.
CHA is part of the teaching system for Harvard Medical School and the Tufts University School of Medicine. As a result, Judith said she has been exposed to innovative research projects in the Geri-Psych field. She has also used the CHA tuition reimbursement benefit to take classes and has completed her BSN since working at CHA.
CHA’s commitment to diversity and serving all patients is something that attracted Judith. As someone who speaks a language other than English (she speaks Haitian Creole) Judith appreciated the multi-cultural and multi-lingual culture of CHA. While not a trained interpreter, Judith is able to help patients gain clarity or put them at ease by conversing with them in their native language. Judith is just one of several bi-lingual nurses employed by CHA – the official languages of the system are English, Spanish, Portuguese and Haitian Creole.
Since working at CHA, Judith has also come to appreciate the nursing leadership and the opportunities for advancement that are available here.
One of the ways that Judith has been able to develop her leadership is through participation in committee work that allows her to become more involved in making change at CHA. She is a member of the Diversity Committee, a member of the Clinical Ladder Program and a member of the Fall Risk Prevention Task Force focused on the prevention of falls in geriatric hospital settings.
Brooke is a veteran CHA nurse who has helped the Child Assessment Unit at CHA Cambridge Hospital grow and develop into the innovative environment that it is. The Child Assessment Unit is an inpatient facility at Cambridge Hospital campus that helps children aged 3-12 who are in acute emotional or behavioral distress. “I thought that I would be here for two years and now its twenty-three years later!” she said.
During those twenty-three years, Brooke has been part of building a nursing department that supports both the child and the family. The department holds open visiting hours where parents can be with their children at any time and often sleep overnight. “It’s comforting for the child to have their parents nearby and gives the parents an opportunity to be involved in their care,” she said. She also plays a role in group sessions where children in the unit can play and spend time with their siblings while receiving treatment.
Brooke’s professional nursing role at CHA involves assessing patient and family needs, involvement in therapeutic groups and collaborating with a multidisciplinary team around patient care. She is part of a team approach that uses the Collaborative Problem Solving model, where the focus is on understanding a child's challenges and helping him or her to build coping skills rather than focusing on consequence based approaches. This results in a restraint-free and seclusion-free environment that is nationally-recognized for innovation.
Prior to joining CHA, Jyothi worked as a traveling ED nurse, taking shifts at various EDs in the greater Boston area. During that time, she came to recognize how different CHA was from other hospitals. “I really found that the people who work at CHA are so welcoming of new people – and you don’t find that everywhere,” she said. When a permanent position opened at the Cambridge Hospital ED, she decided to apply.
Jyothi likes being part of a highly integrated team who works closely to treat patients. The CHA ED is different from many other EDs because patients are triaged and seen very quickly - this means there is little time spent in the waiting room. It makes for a very fast-paced environment but it ensures everyone works together as a team. “From the moment I get in and begin rounds on my shift, I’m anticipating the needs of my teammates,” she said. “Even though I’ll have my own set of patients to care for, I need to be aware of what’s going on with my team at all times in case the dynamic in the ER shifts and I’m called upon to take over an assignment.”
Another aspect of working at CHA that Jyothi embraces is its commitment to teaching and learning. As a preceptor, Jyothi helps train nursing students from area colleges and universities. A newly formed partnership between Beth Israel Hospital and CHA has increased the number of students Jyothi oversees. “When you teach you also learn a lot,” said Jyothi, “and I enjoy that.”
Cheryl is considered one of the most qualified and compassionate nurses at CHA, but she won’t take any credit for the hundreds of women she’s helped transition to motherhood at the CHA Maternity Suite, “My patient care successes are not based on anything I do alone,” she said, “It’s a team effort.”
Cheryl has worked at CHA for fifteen years and said her team is one of the reasons why she’s had such long tenure. “CHA is a hidden jewel,” she said, “We have an incredible evidence-based approach that rivals any of the larger hospitals in Boston but we’re smaller and can offer a more personal approach to patient care. We provide a very patient-centered birth experience. We have a high exclusive breastfeeding rate, while at the same time we have a low C-section rate.”
Another reason Cheryl enjoys working at CHA is her ability to help mothers from diverse backgrounds feel comfortable in their new role. As a lactation specialist, Cheryl primarily helps mothers and their babies learn to breastfeed. “Nurses who come to work here need to understand our mission and our commitment to vulnerable populations - that’s what sets us apart,” she said.
Many of the mothers Cheryl supports do not speak English, and others come from poor economic backgrounds. It’s what makes the job challenging but what also makes it very rewarding. “When you get the chance to really help that mother find success with breastfeeding – the mother who may not be able to attend childbirth education classes or know of the resources available to her – it makes our efforts worth it,” she said.
In the end, she always brings it back to her team. “I’ve spoken to colleagues at other hospitals who don’t seem to feel as supported as I do here. I feel like our team has a shared vision and a commitment to our patients that keeps us on the same page. It’s been a really important for me.”
Caroline was in the process of finishing up her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at UMass Boston when she heard about Cambridge Health Alliance. Some of her classmates were doing their clinical rotations here and told her they liked the culture – it was a smaller health care system and they felt its community focus allowed them to spend more time with the patients. They also told her that the psychiatry units were particularly impressive.
Caroline had an interest in going into child hospital nursing and knew that CHA had a strong focus on integrating behavioral health into services – when a job opening was posted in the field at Cambridge Hospital, Caroline decided to apply. “I’m so glad I did because I would tell any nurse looking to come to CHA that this is the best job that you’ll ever have,” she said.
Caroline said that the CHA approach to orientation helped her transition to this new field of nursing over time. She had regular check-ins with senior nursing staff each week to help her grow in comfort and expertise – never feeling pressured to be an expert in providing the type of care the unit provided on her own until she was fully ready. “It wasn’t like they said ‘OK you need to be ready in three weeks’” she said, “They really took the time to help me get comfortable.”
Caroline says she enjoys her job because she feels that she really has the opportunity to spend time with the children who need care and that she is rewarded by the methods CHA uses to help them learn and develop.