Growing up in Haiti, she knew she wanted to follow her mother into the profession.
“I wanted to wear a uniform like her,” she jokes now, after more than 24 years in healthcare. Maggie entered the field as a home attendant after moving to New York in the 1980s. She learned English and put herself through school to become a nursing assistant, and eventually a licensed nurse practitioner.
For the past several years, Maggie has treated members of Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA). CCA members are among the most complex and vulnerable patients in Massachusetts, and their healthcare challenges often create barriers to treatment. That’s where Maggie comes in.
Working out of CCA’s Lawrence clinic and treating patients throughout Merrimack Valley at their homes, Maggie has developed a specialty in reaching members who have pushed other nurses and doctors away. She has a unique ability to convince patients to open the door and trust her. She develops a rapport with them, and offers a willing ear.
“Most of our members are living in poverty,” Maggie says. “They have poor housing. They don’t have access to proper nutrition. We can really help these people. So I spend time with them. I sit down and I listen. I smile and I give them choices so we can work on their problems together.”
Maggie’s approach stems from a tragic personal experience: Her oldest son passed away at the age of 22. The morning before he died, he was found wandering his college campus without clothes. No one thought to inform his family. Maggie didn’t know anything was wrong until she was called to come and identify her son’s body.
“Every time I think about my son, I wish there was someone who had seen him and said something,” she says. “I look at every scenario now as, ‘this could be my son; this could be my father. I do the best I can for my patients because I wasn’t able to help my son.”
Her personal approach and ability to relate has made her a critical part of the healthcare community in her hometown of Chelmsford and throughout the Merrimack Valley. And more than two decades after she first put on the uniform she so admired as a child, Maggie maintains her passion for the job.
“When I get home, I lay down and I know I did something good – to someone, somehow.”