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For Kaitlyn Potts, nursing begins with building relationships

For Kaitlyn Potts, nursing begins with building relationships

Registered nurse Kaitlyn Potts finds the most rewarding part of her work in the relationships that she’s been able to build. In her role as a medication aide nurse, she enjoys a good deal of interaction with residents. She appreciates the chance to get to know them on a personal level.

“I really like the relationships,” she said. “It’s such a safe setting. I worked at Fulton State Hospital for seven years, and I would never bring my kids to work before. Here they can just run by and say hi, and they like saying hi to the residents (prior to COVID-19, when there weren’t restrictions on outside visitors). It’s a happy environment.”

Through her work, she’s developed an understanding of residents’ likes and dislikes, and how they prefer to spend their time. That’s become more important recently, as staff work to fill the role of family now that social distancing and stay-at-home orders are in place.

“I like to curl their hair and paint their nails,” Kaitlyn said. “That’s what I do when I have spare time — especially now with COVID, because no one can come in. I try to spend time with them one-on-one. One of our residents is nonverbal, so I try to sit with her for a while and curl her hair. She makes eye contact with me and feels safe with me. I feel in nursing, I try to treat the residents like family, and in some respects, we are their family. We try to find out what’s best for them.”

This deeper understanding of residents allows the nursing staff to better notice changes in behavior that might indicate a bigger medical or emotional concern — and gives them the information they need to serve as effective advocates for residents’ needs.

“Here I feel like it’s more a family-type setting,” Kaitlyn said. “We advocate as if it’s a family member. When they need things done, we communicate that with the doctors, just like it’s one of our family members. You’re able to notice a difference in their status because you see them every day. You know their norms, celebrate birthdays with them. It’s a lot more personal. I love our residents and the chance to build relationships with them and know them.”

As residents face additional stressors and challenges during the worries of COVID-19, Kaitlyn has been able to utilize her education and experience as a “psych” nurse to help meet the social and emotional needs of residents.

“We are social creatures, we need to see our families and friends and get out and be around people,” Kaitlyn said. “Now that we’re not letting people in, we’ve done a lot of Facebook and FaceTime calls. That’s all we have, and it’s hard. We’ve been super vigilant, and we’re proud of the fact that we’ve been able to keep everyone safe. It’s been painful, but it’s working. Everyone is healthy.”

Kaitlyn said it’s nice to recognize nursing staff during the celebration of the Year of the Nurse, as well as the contributions Florence Nightingale made to the advancement of medicine.

“It’s important, because there’s so much burnout in nursing,” Kaitlyn said. “You work a lot of hours, long hours. It’s nice to be appreciated, and to remember why you do what you do and to see that you’re making a difference.”

Kaitlyn, who has been a nurse since 2010, said nursing feels a lot like being a mother to her. And the family setting of Fulton Presbyterian Manor fills her with a feeling of reward every day. In fact, she said she initially started working part-time at Presbyterian Manor, but enjoyed it so much, she’s made the switch to working here exclusively.

When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her two sons: Beau, 6, and Cyrus, 2.

“My life basically revolves around them,” she laughed.

The family also has a pet chameleon named Branch and a leopard gecko named Spike.

“The kids think they’re super cool,” she said.

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