By Anne Gabbianelli
“I still can’t believe I was chosen, and I am very humbled and honored,” says Laura Osborne, a registered nurse with Beacon Hospice of Bangor. “This really was a nice ending to 2020.”
Osborne was honored with the 2020 Nurse of the Year — Spirit of Excellence Award from Amedisys, Inc. for its northern region. Beacon Hospice is part of the Amedisys family.
This award is Amedisys’ highest clinical honor, recognizing the heroic work that’s been on display throughout this most unprecedented time for those in healthcare. Established in 2004, “The Spirit of Excellence Award honors clinicians who have provided the highest level of service, while demonstrating the tenets of the Amedisys SPIRIT,” says Beacon Hospice’s Executive Director Kristy Thibodeau. “SPIRIT stands for Service, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Talent, which truly defines Laura.”
Late last year the Hampden resident was one of almost 900 nominees. Thibodeau explains, “There were 34 winners, and as a care center, we were honored to have one of our own win Clinician of the Year! I know I speak for the entire team when I say Laura is a very positive, uplifting individual. She is a very caring and compassionate nurse who always goes above and beyond to ensure her patients have everything they need.”
One of Beacon Hospice’s Chaplains nominated Osborne, noting this seasoned nurse’s positive influence on patients and their families and her commitment to the precepts of patient-centered care.
Reflecting on her career, Osborne says her work has concentrated in oncology, first at Eastern Maine Medical Center for more than 20 years and then Cancer Care of Maine for five years before joining Beacon in 2017. With hospice work, any planned schedule inevitably will change.
“We meet every morning and sometimes one of my patients might be doing badly, so I have to switch my schedule around. If there is a death, I have to drop everything and attend,” Osborne says. “I may make a visit and find someone barely hanging on and have to increase their meds as they transition to end of life. I stay as long as it takes to make sure the patient and family are comfortable. Then sometimes I have an admission and my whole schedule needs to be rearranged.”
Osborne says her car is her office and she is on the road and not complaining as she loves seeing the coast every day. “I group my visits according to location. My territory is very wide spread as I currently have patients in Sedgwick, Surry, Ellsworth, Bar Harbor and South West Harbor… I sometimes sit on the shore and tackle my paperwork.”
While Osborne acknowledges she has had many wonderful experiences as a hospice nurse, she does struggle at times. “I feel less effective when I can’t get someone comfortable,” she says. “Covid has been very hard on nursing home patients. I remember one patient literally taking her last few breaths while her daughter was on the phone. I held the phone to my patient’s ear as she died.”
“This job has been the most rewarding job ever,” Osborne says. “It’s such a privilege to be welcomed into a patient’s home and sharing life reviews with family while making sure loved ones have the best possible end of life. This award makes me proud of what I have accomplished. I’ve been truly blessed.”
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