For Leandra Sanchez, going into nursing was second nature.
“My mother was a nurse,” she said. “Growing up, I remember hearing all the stories she would tell about touching people and making a difference. In my heart, I wanted to experience that as well.”
Sanchez likes to think that she ended up in home health not by chance but rather through divine intervention. She had worked as a nurse in urology for 22 years and decided to take a break. During that time, Sanchez got a call that would change the direction of her career. It was about a job opening in home health.
Sanchez wasn’t ready to go back to work yet. She asked the branch director to call her back in a month. During that time, she did her research. She looked at what people had to say about Enhabit Home Health & Hospice, and she liked what she saw. After her interview, Sanchez decided to give home health a shot. Now 10 years later, she is grateful that she made that choice.
Making a difference, one day at a time
One of the things Sanchez likes best about her job is getting to see patients in their own homes. When compared to a hospital or clinical setting, patients tend to be more honest at home, and Leandra can see the full picture of a patient’s day to day. For example, she can help educate patients on how their diet could be impacting their recovery by noticing the food that’s out on the counter.
Sanchez considers it a privilege to see patients in their own environment and takes that responsibility seriously. Each night, she calls the patients she will see the following day to make sure they remember their appointment. As a nurse preceptor, she trains incoming Enhabit nurses to do the same.
“We know patients have a life, even if they may be homebound,” Sanchez explained. “We honor the fact that they may have nap time or visitors.”
She also makes sure to call if she will be late to an appointment. What she thinks of as common courtesy means a lot to her patients.
Health care can be a stressful job. Working through the COVID-19 pandemic has made some days even more challenging. Each morning when she wakes up, Sanchez focuses on one goal: to make a difference in each patient’s day. In taking this approach of one patient at a time, day by day, she avoids burnout and keeps showing up for her patients and showing how much she cares.
Seeing the impact
Thinking back on the many patients Sanchez has cared for, she recalls one in particular. For two years, she saw this patient three times a week for a wound on her leg. “I was the nurse and she was my patient,” Sanchez explained. “But we became very close. We became friends.”
Home health nurse
“I was the nurse and she was my patient. But we became very close. We became friends.”
The day finally came when the patient’s physician determined that no more visits were needed and she was discharged.
“After dealing with this for a while, the wound on her leg was healed and she was so grateful,” Sanchez said. “Those are the cases where we see a good outcome.”
Sanchez feels that empowering patients to be able to care for themselves is extremely important. In fact, on her first visit, she always tells patients that the goal at Enhabit is education.
“One of these days, I’m going to be out of the home,” she said. “If they don’t understand the disease process or their medications, then I haven’t done my job.”
Although Sanchez is often called upon because of her depth of knowledge in urology, she has found that working in home health has made her an all-around better nurse. Now, she feels confident working with patients with a variety of diagnoses — whether it’s diabetes, congenital heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another chronic condition.
In addition to field nurses like Sanchez, Enhabit home health patients have access to an interdisciplinary team that works together to deliver an individualized plan of care for each patient. A patient might see different clinicians for physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy or other needs, based on each patient’s goals. The care team decides which services the patient needs at different stages of their recovery. That way, the patients aren’t overwhelmed and they get the right care at the right time.
Sanchez’s heart guided her into the field of nursing and a lifetime of caring for others. Just like her mom, she now has countless stories about touching people and making a difference. It’s compassionate and patient-focused clinicians like Sanchez who make Enhabit special.
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