How I found my path to becoming a home care nurse

Smiling nurse and happy elderly lady, horizontal-1Every nurse has their own story of how and why they got into healthcare. Providing compassionate patient care requires a sense of purpose that helps create personal connections and results in meaningful experiences. For me, the intimate nature of the nurse-patient relationship changed my life and still drives my commitment to serving the needs of the Sparta, IL community

Early in my career, I became a nurse at a hospital in a small rural setting where we helped transfer patients into larger facilities. One night I got called in for a transfer for a patient who was in critical condition. When I walked into the patient’s room, I was shocked. It was my childhood neighbor. Emotions were running rampant, especially when we determined he wasn’t stable enough to leave the ER. During his last moments, we talked about how he had taught me to tie my shoes and then he thanked me for being there, knowing I would be in the room with the physician to talk with his family. 

This experience reinforced my role as a caretaker in the community and I decided that home health was where I could make the biggest impact. With patients being discharged earlier, it’s no secret that patient care is changing. That’s why for the past two decades, my goals in the home care setting have centered around quality performance and high patient satisfaction. 

Home care professionals and nurses have a direct line of communication with our community, and the rapport to help patients recover in the comfort of their own home. For example, a friend of mine is a retired musician from Nashville who had just come home from the hospital after a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG). Shockingly, he hadn’t heard from anyone regarding his lab work or post-surgery protocols. I decided to go to his home and thanks to our strong relationship, he elected me to be his caregiver. Shared interests such as a common love for music created a bond that made a difference in his recovery, an outcome that’s special and unique to the home care setting. 

Home health gives clinicians and nurses these types of opportunities, and the chance to provide more informed patient care. One area where this is of the utmost importance is sepsis. As the leading cause of death and a driver of readmissions in U.S. hospitals, detecting sepsis in the home care setting is a crucial initiative. At Sparta Community Hospital, we’ve been able to save lives by identifying sepsis symptoms and applying treatment as early as possible. 

Using our Sepsis Screening Tool, hospital readmissions have decreased 3% in the last 4 months and we are compiling our findings as part of the Illinois State Sepsis Screening Project, a pilot program that helps home health agencies incorporate sepsis care steps and tools into their patient plans to improve early detection and treatment.

Through these efforts, nurses in home health have the ability to provide consistent care and support patients through personalized experiences. I learned early on that nurses have the power to be a lifeline for patients in more ways than I could have imagined. Patients depend on us, and after decades of life changing experiences in home care, I can’t think of a better place to fulfill the purpose of what got me into nursing in the first place: caring for people. 


You can hear more from Cheryl at NAHC19 (on October 15th) where she'll be presenting on treating sepsis in the home care setting. Take a look at MEDITECH's EHR Excellence Toolkits including Sepsis Management.  

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Topics: Home Care, Nursing, Sepsis

Written by Cheryl Adams, RN, BSN, MBA, Sparta Community Hospital

Cheryl Adams is an RN, BSN, MBA at Sparta Community Hospital in Sparta, IL and has 30+ years of clinical nursing and healthcare executive experience. Cheryl has been the administrator of At-Home Health Care of Sparta Community Hospital since its inception in 1996. Cheryl is responsible for developing, implementing and sustaining the business plan for the hospital based home health agency known as At-Home Health Care. The agency under her direction has a history of multiple deficiency free surveys, a reduction in acute care hospitalization rate, improved patient satisfaction and implementation of a telehealth program. Cheryl is credentialed as a Home Health ICD-10 Coder and OASIS Specialist. Cheryl is committed to having a voice for the home care industry and the people that are served. She feels it is important that leaders of home care ensure access to care but also quality of care to those we serve.