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Local nurses go above and beyond to provide around-the-clock care

LUTCHER — While Nurses’ Week and National Hospital Week are both observed in May, day shift RN Nicole Boe and night shift LPN Katasha Morris are part of a team that works around-the-clock, year-round to provide top-notch care to patients at St. James Parish Hospital.

Acute Care Manager Karley Babin, RN, said both women have been great assets to the team.

“Katasha started with us in November and has been an asset to the team. She consistently gets positive feedback from her co-workers and patients,” Babin said.

Meanwhile, Boe has been part of the St. James Hospital team for nearly nine years. According to Babin, “She is always getting recognized for her positive attitude and her willingness to do anything she is asked.”

Boe and Morris think of nursing as a calling that allows them to make an impact in the lives of others.

Morris will never forget the OBGYN nurse who changed her life and set her on a new career path after she gave birth to her now 13-year-old twins.

“The OBGYN nurse I had in the hospital after labor and delivery was really good. I asked her a lot of questions when I was in the hospital after I had my c-section and was waiting to go home, and she gave me the basis of the career,” Morris said. “I enrolled in nursing school and became a nurse.”

Morris loves getting to know her patients at the bedside, and the greatest reward is watching a person go from sick to well during their hospital stay. Each night shift begins with a report from the off-going nurse, then heading out onto the floor to introduce herself to the patient.

“I try to learn as much as I can about that patient while they are there with me, even if they might just be there overnight,” Morris said.

There are patients who touch her heart, such as one woman who she cared for earlier this year. It was the woman’s last night in the hospital before discharge, and she knew Morris’ name as soon as she entered the room. The woman asked Morris to have a seat and spent the better part of two hours talking to her that night about her life and how she was eager to return home and take care of her grandson.

Taking time to connect on a one-on-one level with that patient made it a night well spent.

“I was working at Ochsner in the clinic at the beginning of COVID, and I left the clinic setting to go back to a hospital setting,” Morris said. “I prefer the hospital setting because you get more one-on-one with your patients than in the clinic setting. Here at St. James, you’ll sometimes have swing bed patients here for two weeks, so you really get to know your patients. You get to know their quirks, what they don’t like, so you’ll be better prepared to take care of the patient.”

Working during the COVID-19 pandemic was a major adjustment for Morris. She learned to quickly adapt to ever-changing guidelines, all while her children stayed at her parent’s house a safe distance away.

Boe has been nursing for 12 years, and the pandemic exposed her to job responsibilities she’s never had before.

“Last year was definitely a challenging year for nursing in general. We took on a bunch of different roles at the bedside, taking care of the COVID patients. Our roles were stepped up to limit the amount of people who have to go into the patients’ rooms,” Boe said. “We assisted with labs on patients that we don’t normally do and helped take out trash to make sure the rooms were clean.”

Boe also carried around an iPad designated for Facetime to connect patients to their loved ones who weren’t allowed to visit in person under strict safety guidelines.

On top of that, Boe maintain her usual responsibilities of assessing her patients’ lungs, heart, skin, vital signs, lab results and more. She aims to make every patient feel as comfortable as possible in the hospital by administering medications, delivering meals, assisting with bathroom trips and bringing them to physical therapy.

“Originally what brought me into nursing is I just wanted a job that allowed me to help people, a job that made me feel like I was making a difference in somebody’s life. Nursing allows me to do that on a daily basis. It’s a fulfilling and rewarding job to know you are helping to get people back to a functional state where they can take care of themselves,” Boe said.

Boe gives kudos to everyone who works at St. James Parish Hospital because every patient’s recovery is a reflection of a team effort.