It was the middle of a snowstorm. CCA nurse Ertha Fenelon knew that her member’s wound dressing needed to be changed. The weather kept one of the member’s caregivers from reporting for duty, and the new dressing was overdue.
Ertha drove to the member’s house. Because of the snow, she couldn’t park. So, Ertha parked at her own home, packed up the supplies she needed, and walked back to the member’s house in the snow.
“I was so happy and proud of myself that I went, even in a snowstorm, because the member really needed me. It was a serious wound, and the dressing could not wait,” Ertha said.
Ertha doesn’t let anything get in the way of showing up. As a result, she has developed close and trusting relationships with those in her care. In nearly four years with CCA, she has become a go-to resource for her members. She to answer questions about medications, nutrition, and all other aspects of managing various health conditions. Ertha’s warm and outgoing nature make it easy for people to open up to her.
Ertha’s members come from a myriad of different backgrounds and circumstances. One of her top priorities is culturally sensitive care. When Ertha emigrated to the United States from Haiti at 26, she experienced the challenges of learning a second language and pursuing a different career in a new place. Because of this experience, she feels she can relate to members who may face similar obstacles when they communicate with healthcare providers. Ertha listens actively and remains sensitive to members’ comfort levels, always responding with compassion and never with judgment.
“When you see members with different cultures, and they see that you respect them and their values, they begin to trust you. Then you can help them. For me, that is a big accomplishment,” she said.
Prior to joining CCA, Ertha worked in a hospital setting. She often worked with ventilated patients and others with critical conditions. Patients would ask for Ertha by name if they hadn’t seen her yet during a shift. Her expertise in managing complex healthcare needs has been an asset to her at CCA. Now, she often plays a role in helping keep complex patients in their homes.
“Connecting with members in their homes is so important. Sometimes all it takes is one conversation. They’ll ask me a question, and we can make a change to something that isn’t working. Sometimes that change might keep them out of the hospital,” she said.
Before nursing school, Ertha was a teacher. In the same way that she helped children gain new skills and understand their environment, she is committed to helping members participate in their own care. When members find something most daunting, Ertha steps up to reassure them they can be successful in their goals. Even when something is hard, Ertha says, it doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated. She breaks larger plans down into simpler steps that help members manage their health needs day-to-day.
“I let our members know we can do it together,” she said.