WEST HARTFORD — Stephanie Fradette has worked in a variety of nursing positions over her 11-year career in the field.
She’s been in nursing homes and the ICU unit of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, where she still works.
But it’s her role as a home care nurse for BrightStar Care of West Hartford that earned her the company’s Northeast Nurse of the Year award.
Taking care of people inside their own homes, Fradette said, provides her a unique opportunity to build relationships with her patients.
“I actually enjoy helping and talking to all of these people,” Fradette said. “The majority of clients are the eldery. I love getting to know them and hearing their stories. Of course they love telling stories. Home care, especially nowadays, is so much more important. I wish there was more opportunity for people to receive care at home.”
Fradette said home care, which she’s been doing for about two years, is a much more personal experience than other nursing positions, and that’s something she loves about it.
“Part of it is being a great listener and listening to what their needs truly are,” Fradette said. “If you have the medical knowledge of their background, you have an idea of their needs. But you really have to listen to them and everyone has their own needs and wants. It’s about building a relationship and keeping it professional while giving them advice and suggestions.”
Being a nurse during the pandemic has made some of that a lot harder. Sometimes all she could do was make a phone call to the client or family, rather than visit them in person. And her time spent working in the ICU, she said, was sad.
“It’s actually quite sad honestly,” Fradette said. “It’s very tolling emotionally. It makes your work days a lot longer. The ICU, of course, was the COVID ICU. We saw a lot and dealt with a lot. In the nursing homes...they shut down. They couldn’t have visitors. That meant no contact. It was really sad for them. That makes their day...just being able to see everyone.”
But still, Fradette said she tries to work hard to ensure the best for her clients, no matter the circumstances. Her co-workers agree, describing her as having a “can-do attitude, but a will-do spirit.”
“Between my busy schedule, and I have two young kids, even if I’m away from the office and something comes up, or it’s after hours, it’s never ‘I’m too tired.’ Let me deal with that now,” Fradette said. “I prioritize work. Let me get it done. I don’t complain. I do what I got to do.”
That includes the specific client interaction Fradette’s co-workers nominated her for. It involved a teenage patient, which is a less common type of patient for a home care nurse.
“I was dealing with a client who was a teenager, who was starting college, that has a rare condition that needed lengthy infusions,” Fradette said. “She wasn’t sure if she was going to miss school. We made sure we had enough staff to make sure she didn’t. We did it for her right on campus. She didn’t miss much. It was awesome for her to actually have a college life.”
Fradette was shocked when she received the award, and said it still hasn’t really hit her yet. All she knows is that nursing has been the only profession she’s ever wanted to have.
“I always had that caring nature,” she said. “I like helping people. I have a great attention and respect for people. I can put myself in their shoes and think of things from their perspectives. I like being able to advocate for them. In this home care role I can advocate for them and reach out to different resources and give them suggestions and referrals. It’s a lot more personable. I like getting to know different people.”