Every day, a growing number of dedicated nurses care for aging adults and people with complex medical needs inside their homes, administering daily medications, providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, and managing personalized plans of care.To pay tribute to the specialized and tireless work of thousands of nurses throughout the network, BrightStar Care launched a national Nurse of the Year program to recognize the nurses who are working hard to deliver A Higher Standard of Home Care each and every day.
This year, our Director of Nursing Vashti Johnson was nominated. Here is the nomination letter about Vashti:
First, thank you for the opportunity to be given a platform to share with the broader team at BrightStar Care how lucky BrightStar Care of Cary feels to have Vashti Johnson, RN, BSN as our Director of Nursing.
As John and I began our search for a Director of Nursing, we knew we needed someone who was competent, dependable, compassionate, and a leader. Someone who understood the struggles of opening a home care agency and who could put as much “heart and soul” into their role as John and I would. John and I knew this was a tall order as we began interviewing, not thinking for once we would find all of the qualities we needed and wanted in one candidate. As soon as I met Vashti I knew she would be the one leg of the “three legged stool” that would accelerate our agency growth.
Vashti’s background is very unique and one that I want to shout to the world because it is deserving of recognition. She often blushes when I praise her in front of our clients, or pay her compliments when she has simply done her job. Vashti doesn’t see that her accomplishments are amazing and out of the ordinary…she sees them as steeping stones to something bigger and greater than those things that she has already accomplished. Vashti has had to overcome obstacles her entire life. She came from a broken home where her mother pushed Vashti, and her sister, to be their best in a world that sometimes was against them. Vashti admits that she lost her way at times but never lost focus of a better life. In her early 20’s, Vashti gave birth to her son, Malachi, at 23 weeks. The prognosis wasn’t good but with Vashti’s determination and enough “fight” for both herself and her son, Malachi beat all odds and is now 14 years old. Of course, being born at 23 weeks, Malachi has had the burden of countless surgeries, not to mention the struggles that come along with being “handicapped” in today’s society. Vashti has been fighting for her son, as a single mom, ever since! It was Vashti experience fighting for her son that led her down the path of nursing.
You may ask yourself, why does Vashti deserve to be BrightStar Care’s “2016 Nurse of the Year”? As the agency owner of BrightStar Care of Cary, I see a passion in Vashti that can’t be taught in nursing school. A passion to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Not afraid to speak up and be an advocate to clients when their care is being compromised by outside parties. Vashti aptitude for learning is off the charts. Not only is she a born leader and has ran large long term care facilities in the past, she is just as happy rolling up her sleeves and being very hands on when needed.
When Vashti joined BrightStar Care of Cary, she had never done IVIG and this was an area that we wanted to push the agency. Vashti was fearless and did what it took to jumpstart our IVIG services. To this day, we continue to grow this side of the business and Vashti is very well respected by our national accounts and their Director of Nurses. She also is now a member of the Infusion Nurses Society and is now teaching other nurses in our agency to master IVIG to ensure we stay competitive in our market.
I am often “blown-away” by Vashti confidence and her level of knowledge when in front of a client and/or referral source. Vashti has the ability to size up her audience very quickly and speak to their level. There are several examples that I would like to share. Early on, our office received a call from a family and requested Vashti and I come for a “living room visit”. When Vashti and I arrived, we quickly determined that the family would not be able to afford our services and they were in need of state/government funded services. Unfortunately, I become a little uneasy because I didn’t have answers to the questions that the family was asking, nor knew much about the services the State of NC offered for certain situations like this client’s.
To say the least, I was shocked at the information that Vashti was sharing and the level of knowledge Vashti had as it related to state funded services and the path the family could take to ensure services would be approved. In just a few moments, Vashti illustrated with her combination of empathy, compassion and knowledge, that BrightStar Care of Cary was a leader in our community and goes the extra mile to ensure people in need get the services they need, whether or not they use our agency or not. Another example I would like to point out is a client who had run out of her medications and would not get her supply from the pharmacy until the next day. Vashti volunteered to drive across town, purchase the medication with her own money (let’s remember Vashti is a single mom!) and hand deliver the medications to the client. Once again, Vashti is going the extra mile to ensure BrightStar Care of Cary follows through with our commitment of providing a “higher quality of care”!
My last example is Vashti instrumental meeting with a national account, MedPro, who I had been trying to “break into” for a while. The Director of Nursing of MedPro met with Vashti and was very impressed with her credentials and the way that Vashti answered all of her questions regarding procedures around IVIG. Now let’s remember, Vashti was new at IVIG but conducted herself as an “expert” when communicating with MedPro’s Director of Nursing. From what we understand from MedPro, we are the “go to agency for any IVIG cases in the Raleigh/Cary area.
Vashti has been committed to BrightStar Care of Cary since her first day of work, January 5th, 2015. Shortly after starting, Vashti underwent a complicated surgery and was determined to be back to work in 5 days…she came back in three! Not only has she been our “Extraordinaire Director of Nursing” but she also works part-time at UNC Chapel Hill Hospital, on the rehab floor, AND managed to complete her Bachelors of Nursing in 2015!!! She began working towards her Masters in Nursing in September, however, recently got accepted to Nurse Practitioner school and began January of this year. All doing this while helping grow our agency at the same time and getting our agency in position for submitting our application for Joint Commission Accreditation this month!
I am sure there are other nurses in the organization that have been nominated, who are more established in their agencies and maybe have accomplished a little more than what Vashti has been able to do in her short 13 months. The one thing that Vashti has done is help John and I build the clinical piece of our agency very quickly and gain the respect of our clients and our referral sources. The clinical knowledge is the lifeline of our business and must not miss a beat. To have someone who I know I can call, day or night, is invaluable. Without Vashti, our agency would not be where it is today. John and I owe a lot to Vashti and for once, Vashti deserves someone looking out for her and being her advocate. And with this being said, I do hope that you will consider voting for Vashti Johnson, RN, BSN, BrightStar Care of Cary’s Director of Nursing, and who is also a client/patient advocate, a student, and a future nurse practitioner, for BrightStar Care’s 2016 Nurse of the Year! If anybody is deserving of a scholarship, it’s Vashti!