November 6, 2019
What it's Like to be an EveryStep Hospice Nurse: Kathy Simon
Kathy Simons wanted to be a nurse from an early age. In fact, watching her mother work as a nurse instilled within her the desire to take care of others.
"I always like to care for people and was always hoping to help people feel better when they weren't feeling well," she says.
Simon’s early career involved working in psychiatry and in home care.
Her journey to becoming a hospice nurse was a bit happenstance.
"A patient that was going to go to hospice, at the same time that the home care company I worked with was transferring to Omaha," she recalls. "I didn't want to move to Omaha so we came to hospice in the buddy system."
Moving to the hospice field wasn't completely new for Simon. She'd worked with different hospice teams over time, noting it was a "wonderful experience to be with people as their life or journey on this planet was done."
Simons made her way to EveryStep Hospice, then known as Hospice With Heart, after working for another hospice in the area.
"Hospice With Heart had a great reputation and it was non-profit," she notes. "That drove me."
While no patient or family is the same, Simons says that what she likes the most about being a hospice nurse are the interactions.
"You are with them at a very valued time in their lives, so you become a part of them, really," she says. "People approach you years later and remember you were there when their loved one died."
It's that memory, relived down the road, that has surprised Simons.
"I was shocked the first time that happened," she says of a family approaching her. "Sometimes you don't feel like you made an impact, then there are some that you don't think it made a big deal for them. But years later, you see them and they remember. To you it was normal, but to them it meant a lot."
Simons recalls caring for a patient one Christmas Eve.
"I got called to a facility, and I thought, ‘they're taking me away from my family,’" she says, adding that she was still happy to be there for her patient. "I got there and looked at the patient and knew we weren't going anywhere for a while."
Around midnight, with the woman's daughter and granddaughter by her side, the patient passed away. Kathy was glad she could be there for that moment, supporting both her patient and her family.
"It makes me sad when people die without hospice, without that support," she notes.
As Kathy continues to care for patients and their families in her community, she also hopes to help educate others on what hospice is.
"Hospice overall is misunderstood," she says. "People don't understand what it is. I want people to learn more about hospice, to have an educated ability to have hospice services and see how wonderful it is."
But it's not just caring for patients that keeps Kathy coming back day after day. Her team is a shining spot in her work.
"I think our team is wonderful," she says of the support and encouragement the team shares. "It's a wonderful career. It's the best nursing career I've ever had."