How long have you worked at Children’s? I’ve been here since this spring, April 5, 2013. But I actually started my nursing career at Children’s – Minneapolis on the float team for two years from 1998 to 2000 when I just finished nursing school.
Describe your work at Children’s. My working title is Perinatal HIV Nurse Coordinator. In this role I collaborate with OB and HIV medical and support staff to provide nursing care coordination for HIV-infected pregnant women, their HIV-exposed infants and their families in Minnesota. One of the unique aspects to this work is that my service is accessible across health systems, and I serve as a resource to patients, families, providers and the larger community. Essentially I can go anywhere in the state to support a client, offer education and work to improve health outcomes for this population of mothers and infants.
World AIDS Day is on Dec. 1. What is Minnesota and Children’s doing to help combat AIDS? Minnesota has many medical care and support services for people living with HIV and AIDS funded by the federal Ryan White CARE Act. The Minnesota Department of Health supports many different prevention programs for those most at risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV.
At Children’s we provide medical care and specialized support services to over 100 children and adolescents infected with HIV. Children come to us from all over Minnesota and surrounding states and all over the world. Children’s also houses the Minnesota Perinatal HIV Program. We provide nursing care coordination for women and their partners during pregnancy and up to six months following birth, and offer education on the latest treatment and prevention guidelines and consultation to medical providers across the state caring for these women and their families. We also offer preconception counseling and guidance for couples wishing to conceive safely and prevent HIV transmission.
What do you love most about your job? I get to sit down and really engage with my clients since building trust is a huge piece of this work. The initial intake appointments are typically about 90 minutes to two hours, and I can meet the woman wherever she is comfortable – in her home, the clinic, a library. And then I can meet with her as often as she requests, sometimes it’s every couple of weeks, sometimes it’s checking in by phone, depending on her particular circumstances. Thirty-nine percent of our clients are just learning about their HIV diagnosis with the pregnancy so you can well imagine the impact it has on them and their ability to take in this information and trust that their newborn has an excellent chance to be healthy and HIV-free. In addition, close to 40 percent of our client population is from Africa, where their experience of living with – or too often dying from- HIV is very different from what is possible in the United States. It’s just an incredible privilege to support these women to have the best outcomes possible for themselves and their newborns at this juncture of their lives.
What is your favorite restaurant? Obento-ya. It’s a great Japanese restaurant in southeast Minneapolis with wonderful food and a nice small atmosphere at a very reasonable price.