Written by Michael Tamberino, owner of BrightStar Care of Bel Air
Heather Morrison, RN, BSN, Director of Nursing, is a very dedicated, caring and compassionate nurse. She is a strong member of our team. She goes above and beyond in her daily company tasks and she invests herself personally in our clients often on her own time and at her own expense.
We have a long-term client who is 27 years old and has Cerebral Palsy and a seizure disorder – we call her Coco. She lives in a Long-Term Care facility in our area which is not very nice or medically appropriate for her condition or age. Understandably, it’s a challenge for her parents to provide round the clock care and they rely on and trust BrightStar Care to provide Coco with caring and compassionate care. We have had a great relationship with Coco since October of 2018.
As if Coco and her family weren’t already challenged enough, to make matters worse Coco’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer this past summer. Needless to say, her family was devastated. Quickly, the care we provide to Coco became the only stable aspect of life for them. As summer turned to fall and the father’s health continued to decline Heather set out looking for ways to bring joy to our Coco. Heather has a relationship with a Ministry for Special Needs Children and suggested to Coco’s mom that she allow our Caregivers to take Coco to the Ministry on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Coco’s mom agreed and was appreciative that we would consider doing something like this for her daughter. To get her out of the facility and into a more social setting was exactly what the family was struggling to do in light of the father’s illness.
Heather communicated the plan for taking Coco to the Ministry with our Caregivers. As Coco is wheelchair bound transport is a challenge. Heather took the time to coach each of our team on proper technique for safely transporting Coco. She attended the first ministry sessions and several since… The joy Coco experienced at that first event was overwhelming! The first week she attended two sessions, and another two sessions the following week – that’s when we noticed a change. Coco didn’t have a seizure during this timeframe! There is something to be said for socialization– quite an elixir! Needless to say, she has become a regular at the Ministry!
As the holidays approached the father’s health took a turn for the worse. Though Coco is fairly non-verbal, she’s certainly is aware of her surroundings and understood the severity of her father’s illness. He declined to the point where he was unable to visit Coco anymore and shortly after Thanksgiving was hospitalized and given just a short time to live. It was at that point that suggested taking Coco to the evening Pizza Party at the Ministry in an effort to bring her just a little more joy. Again, Heather spearheaded the effort with the family and our care team and accompanies Coco to each of these events in her free time. Heather took Coco to the Ministry’s Christmas Party. Heather even had Coco accompany her and her own children to the local shopping mall to sit on Santa’s lap. It was there something wonderful happened – see Santa’s own daughter suffered from Cerebral Palsy as well. He was touched by Coco and they spent better than 20 minutes together – much to the dismay of the other children waiting in line!
Shortly after Christmas we lost Coco’s father. This has been traumatic for Coco and her family. Fortunately for them they have Heather – and she’s not done. She is now preparing Coco to attend Tim Tebow’s Night To Shine (https://www.timtebowfoundation.org/ministries/nightto-shine). They went dress shopping and are preparing for the Big Night! Slowly, as a result of Heathers efforts – and also our great caregivers who work with Coco – her mood is improving and there is some joy back in her heart! None of this would be possible without Heather’s thoughtful and caring efforts. She has truly gone above and beyond for this client and has demonstrated not only the strength of her own character, but also what it means to live BrightStar Care’s Core Values!