Changing Her World: EveryStep Hospice CNA Tammy Simmerman

Tammy Simmerman has always been a caregiver, just not to humans.

In fact, the EveryStep Hospice certified nursing assistant began her career as a veterinarian technician.

"I wanted to work with animals, I didn't like humans," she jokes.

That all changed in 1997, when she made the move from Iowa to Oklahoma.

"The vet techs were not highly coveted, so I went to work at a nursing home," she says. That position, though, didn't involve caring for humans. Instead, she worked in an administrative position, taking on office manager and administrative assistant tasks.

”Her attitude about caring for humans began to change when her mother, who had Parkinson's disease, moved into the nursing home where she worked.

Because of that, Tammy recalls she began to spend more time socializing with residents and helping with feedings and dietary needs.

"That's when I decided, I kind of liked our geriatric populations, I loved listening to their stories and it turned my life completely around," she says.

Within a few years, Tammy was moving back to Iowa and decided it was the time to begin working as a certified nursing assistant focusing on hospice care.

"I just felt that was where the need was," Tammy says. "It wasn't in the billing or in the office setting, I just did not feel like I was giving to people there."

Through her time working in a nursing home setting, Tammy says she noticed that, at times, hospice patients weren't receiving the quality of care they deserved. With that in mind, she knew that she wanted to focus her care on patients at the end-of-life.

"I thought, 'Finally, I've got to get out of the nursing home setting,'" she recalls. "I need to follow my passion for hospice. I felt they needed the care that I could give."

And so she found EveryStep Hospice through her connection to EveryStep nurse Jean Walker.

"I think Jean's passion for what we do, that really drew me to EveryStep," she says. "I think we have the most caring people. The team is so compassionate."

For nearly two years, Tammy has worked as an aide on the Osceola and Winterset teams for EveryStep, as well as the occasional shift at the organization's Greater Regional Hospice Home in Creston.

"I really enjoy our home patients," Tammy says. "The personal relationships you're able to make with them and their families is wonderful."

In fact, Tammy says she's cared for some patients the entire time she's been with EveryStep, ensuring they are comfortable and able to continue their days at home.

"This is a small community, and it's an honor to be able to take care of our elderly and dying," she says. "I've taken care of some people that I've gone to school with or their parents. It's an honor to give back to the community."

"It's a great company to work for," Tammy says of EveryStep. "They are so good to us. I don't have any complaints."

There are a few things she'd change though, mainly when it comes to people's knowledge of what hospice is and how it can make a difference.

"I find it disturbing that we get people so late into their don't have to be in the last 12 hours to get services," she says. "We can do so much more to keep patients comfortable and at home."

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