National Nursing Assistants Day: A Patient’s Perspective

As we celebrate a day that honors those who work very hard, often behind the scenes, it is important to recognize the valuable role that certified nursing assistants (or CNAs) play on Team Magee. And, having spent way too much time here as a patient over the years, I have seen some shining stars in action every day!

The day for a nursing assistant starts early. Those first two hours of the morning shift are critical, as they help our patients get washed up, dressed, assist with breakfast, and be sure we are ready for therapy at 9:00 a.m. Then it’s time to change sheets and make the beds, before the patient makes it back to the room, while also assisting the nurses with other needs. Oh, and then there are call bells ringing, often in multiple rooms at the same time, that require their quick attention. Bathroom visits, helping patients in and out of bed are also on the list, and then it’s repeating these same things in the afternoon and evening.

They do all of this well, but the things you don’t find in the job description are what make our CNAs really stand out. They teach good habits, like asking patients if they checked their skin or, in my case, setting my mirror in the middle of my bed as a reminder (Thanks, Teresia!)

They answer call bells, even when it’s not from “their” patient and sometimes what they find isn’t really pretty (Thanks, Cheryl!) They recognize when patients don’t have basic things they need and help to make it happen. I’ll always remember hearing about the guy who came to Magee with just one pair of pants. His CNA took notice and helped find clothes for him to wear. I also heard countless stories of CNAs bringing a patient a Starbucks that they were craving, or a newspaper that they were missing, or sometimes, just sitting with a patient, listening to them, holding their hand, and telling them, “Everything is going to be OK.”

We are blessed at Magee to have such a great and dedicated team of nursing assistants who thrive on making people’s lives a little better, one small act at a time. They are always on the move, working together as a team, to get the job done. When I was a patient, they were usually the first people I saw in the morning and the last people I saw at night. They made me feel safe and cared for and did it with a smile. And, most importantly, they helped me get through some long hospital stays by assisting me with the little things that meant the most.

At the risk of forgetting to mention someone, I’ll refrain from listing all of their names, but I hope they realize, again, how much their efforts are appreciated by me, and all of our patients, even those who don’t ever tell them!

Photo: Mark Chilutti, Assistant VP for Development and former patient with CNAs Bianca Hunley and Shalice Upson

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