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JNESO—the voice of healthcare professionals.
Following in the footsteps of her mother wasn’t the original plan, but ultimately the deep commitment to caring for others helped shape the career path of Lynne Cross of Sicklerville, N.J. who has been a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) for 22 years.
“I actually wanted to be a teacher at first,” said Cross whose mother worked as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) at a nursing home. “I used to go visit her and watched her work with the people there. I really loved talking to the residents and it was so easy to sit down and hear them tell stories about their families and what they used to do, and it was really interesting,” she reflected. “It made me realize that nursing and taking care of people was something I would love to do.”
Cross, who has worked for Cedar Grove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for over two decades, said being an integral part of the lives of patients is very important to her. “For most of them, this is their last stop. Sometimes they become like part of your extended family in taking care of them, and I want to be there with them for the last part of their journey.”
Cross remembers one resident who left a major impact on her, a woman in her early 40s that had Multiple Sclerosis and needed to be cared for in the facility. “She had a family with young kids and I could see her wanting to care for her family, but she was unable to, and the struggles she and her family went through. I was able to be there with her for birthdays and special things like high school activities and help her make those times just as special as if she was with her family at home. That is when I knew that this (nursing) is what I was always meant to do.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the daily routines of many nursing homes due to social distancing and safety precautions. Cross explained that mitigating the fear and isolation among patients has become a priority. “We have seen more people getting depressed. We are trying to do whatever we can to keep their spirits up: helping them facetime with family, providing music in their rooms, playing games from their doorways… basically, trying to interact with them as much as possible,” she explained.
For Cross, caring doesn’t just apply to patients and their families, it is also extends to her fellow nurses and coworkers. For more than a decade she has served as an officer a steward and currently the treasurer of the local JNESO union chapter. “I like being able to talk with management and settle issues, get them to see that not everything is black and white,” she explained. “The same rules have to apply to everyone and JNESO helps us to keep everyone on an even playing field and make sure that we are all treated fairly.”
Nurses are asked to do a lot more as part of their jobs than in the past, but Cross says the most valuable skill to be successful in this career is still compassion. “It is that personal touch that makes the difference. You are that person they need, many times when they are at their most vulnerable. You need to be understanding, compassionate and that person who really listens to them,” said Cross.
She concluded: “If you want to be a nurse, you have to love what you do. And if you keep persevering, know that you will be a light in someone’s life.”