For Nurse, Outstanding Care Involves Creativity, Compassion

Heather LeBlanc

Sometimes, Heather LeBlanc says, being a good nurse resembles being one of her all-time favorite TV characters.

Like the time a patient was brought to the hospital for an emergency and arrived without cellphone or car keys. When it was time to be discharged, he told Heather that his wife was out of town and he had no way to contact her. He felt stranded and stressed.

“I said, ‘Well, does your wife have Facebook?’ We were able to jump on Facebook and get him in contact with her and make those connections and it changed the whole situation,” Heather says. “I used to love MacGyver. As a kid I looked up to him. And you really do have to ‘MacGyver’ situations, you have to look outside the box. You have to be your patient’s advocate in whatever fashion presents itself.”

It takes creativity and empathy

In her five years as a nurse at Palmdale Regional Medical Center, Heather LeBlanc has been honored multiple times for excellent care. It takes creativity, she says, and empathy.

“I always try to remember — this patient is not just a room number, he or she is a human being,” she says. “This patient was somebody's infant that they brought home from the hospital. This patient was a child at one time. They might have been a grandmother. I get emotional talking about it because it means so much to me.”

Care extends beyond the patient

“You're not only dealing with the patients, you're dealing with their family,” Heather says. “Most of the time, you have more than just one patient in the patient’s room.”

That patient-caregiver relationship, Heather says, is helped by Palmdale Regional’s all-private rooms. “It makes a world of difference for them to have their privacy, their space, to allow for family to come,” she says. “Families are so essential in the patients getting better.”

Establishing relationships

Speaking of family, Heather says her colleagues at Palmdale — including nearly 400 nurses and 400 doctors — are part of hers.

“I work on a telemetry unit where we are truly a family," she says. "If you see somebody struggling, there's always somebody there to offer a hand. ‘I see that you have three discharges and you're getting another admit. What can I do to help?’ “

As a member of the community, Heather often runs into people who recognize her in a checkout line and thank her for the care she provided them or a family member. Heather says it all comes down to doing what it takes to ensure the best possible care for the patient.

“Sometimes it takes bribery — like cookies. It really boils down to establishing those relationships with all the teams to get the work done,” Heather says.