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JNESO—the voice of healthcare professionals.
Most nurses don’t usually describe Tech Support as part of their job, unless of course that nurse is Jennie Lutze from Long Branch, N.J.
“I love taking care of my patients, but sometimes I also take care of computers, cable and internet problems for those who just don’t know what they are doing,” laughed Lutze who has worked for 19 years as a home care/community health nurse for the Visiting Nurse Association. “One woman never forgot my name and told everyone her building, ‘you have to use this nurse, she fixed my cable!’”
Interestingly enough, this nurse who takes caring for patients to the next level, originally wanted to become a physical therapist, but the local college didn’t offer the program. With three children to raise and support, she weighed her options and enrolled in a local nursing program instead. “I always said I didn’t want to be a nurse because I was so tired of taking care of everybody all the time. But, as I started taking classes and began to do well, I realized that I was good at taking care of people, and this is what I should do.” She added, “Nursing taught me how to stand up for myself and for my kids. and how to navigate the world better.”
Lutze found her passion in home care. “You really get to know the people, you see pictures of their weddings from 60 years ago, learn about their lives and their experiences,” she explained. “Most of my population is older, but I have a quadriplegic that I have seen for 17 years, he is 34, and honestly I feel like he is one of my children. I know everything about him, and I love the relationship that we have.”
As post-operative hospital stays become shorter and the aging population increases home care has become an important option to help manage injuries and chronic illnesses and reduce emergency room visits.
“Some of these people can’t leave their homes,” explained Lutze. “A doctor may visit once a month, but is only assessing the patients. We are the ones teaching and instructing patients how to take care of their wounds or manage conditions like diabetes or hypertension, so they don’t wind up in the hospital.”
But that is only part of the job. “Some people don’t have family. You are the only friendly face they see. Sometimes they just need to talk, other times they want to be hugged. That human connection is so important to their health and wellbeing,” she said.
Lutze loves nursing, but noted that just having compassion, kindness and the desire to care for others is only part of what you need to succeed in this field today. “You have to find your voice and develop a thick skin so you can advocate for patients and more importantly for yourself.”
Lutze also advocates for her fellow nurses as a member of the local JNESO union for VNA. “I am the one everyone calls when there is an issue, they say ‘what should I do’ and we find ways to help them.” She added, “Unions are very important for nurses today, without them we would have no rights and little say. They have our backs.”
In addition to her regular duties, Lutze recently volunteered for the VNA COVID-19 Response team to do what she could to assist during pandemic. “A lot of people don’t want to do this, they are scared, but I know what getting myself into,” said Lutze. “We are nurses. This is our job and this is what we chose to do.”