An Air Force veteran herself, Donnette Zastawnik, BSN, shares an experience during which she positively influenced a patient. Currently the Nurse Manager on the Transitional Care Unit at Admiral’s Point, part of the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System, Donnette also reflects on the role of a Nurse Manager.
I remember caring for a soldier on suicide watch who was contemplating treatment for detox. He felt like a failure to his family because he had gone to treatment several times before and was unsuccessful. His history included PTSD and panic attacks. I have received education on how to restart a heart, but not much on how to mend a broken one. While on our floor, this soldier had a severe panic attack, stuck in a place that tortured him so. I grabbed his hands in mine and insisted he focus on my voice and focus on his breathing. His eyes and jaw were clenched tight, his breathing rapid and shallow. Cool cloths were placed on his forehead and neck. I continued to speak to him softly, encouraging him and supporting him. After a while, his breathing slowed to normal and his face and hands were less tense. He drifted off to sleep, finally able to rest.
Once I knew he was calm, I whispered, “We are here for you, sir. Always.” The next day I went to see him. When I began speaking, his eyes grew wide and he said he knew who I was by my voice. He hugged me and thanked me for my support, and for not leaving him, especially when he needed me the most.
As a Nurse Manager, I do my best to always lead by example. I don’t ask my staff to do something I myself would not do. I always try to be kind and understanding. I am honest, fair and equitable. I admit when I make a mistake and turn that mistake into a learning opportunity.