A Southcoast Health VNA Nurse Takes Joy in Delivering Personal Care

As a child, Adrianna Coderre, RN, BSN, loved hearing her aunt’s stories about her career as a nurse, directing a nursing home on Nantucket.

“I loved hearing about how she helped people,” Adrianna says.

Those stories inspired Adrianna to become a certified nursing assistant while still in high school. She then took a job at St. Luke’s Hospital and earned her bachelor of science in nursing at UMass Dartmouth.

Today, she works in admissions with the Southcoast Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), determining what patients need while they recover in their homes from surgery, serious illness, or injuries. The Southcoast VNA provides a wide range of services, including wound care, teaching patients how to manage diabetes or congestive heart failure, and procuring medical equipment.

“When I was at St. Luke’s, I loved it,” she says. “But in the busy hospital environment, I didn’t always feel the impact I had on people’s care.”

In her seven years with the VNA, she has come to appreciate the calmer, one-on-one time she has with patients and the opportunity to glean a wealth of information from their home environment about the care they need.

Adrianna can set up nursing visits, physical, occupational and speech therapy, social work services, and home health aide assistance, depending on what a patient requires. Sometimes, she arrives at a home expecting a straightforward admission, but discovers that the situation is more complicated than originally anticipated.

Perhaps the patient can’t do housework, grocery shopping and other chores, and no family members are nearby to help. They might need a more accessible toilet, a wheelchair or other equipment. Sometimes patients cannot afford prescription medications, but are reluctant to tell their doctor.

In those cases, Adrianna refers patients to Coastline Elderly Services, the local Council on Aging or other services, and relays information to their doctor. The goal is to get people better and stronger, and to prevent problems from occurring, she says.

About two-thirds of VNA patients are elderly people who rely on services to remain in their homes. Others are younger people who suffered injuries in a car crash, suffer from a chronic condition they need help managing, or require wound care or maternal and child health services.

“If you can stay at home and get the care you need, it can be so much better than being in a facility,” she says. “Patients’ spirits are higher, they can sleep in their own bed, and everything is familiar.”

Adrianna, a Fairhaven resident, spends her time off knitting in the winter, being a “beach bum” in the summer, and hiking and gardening with her husband. As a nurse, she takes deep satisfaction in the relationships she develops with patients and their families. She still hears from some during the holidays, and more than once, she has attended a former patient’s funeral.

“You can’t help but develop attachments,” she says. “When I was a newer nurse, I was under impression that people went to VNA to retire and nothing could be further from the truth. It is a very personal, healthcare experience that helps so many people, in so many ways. I feel like I’m contributing to the greater good.”

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