Barbara Finds Her Calling in Pediatric Home Healthcare

August 18, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Barbara Rutberg has been a nurse for over 40 years; 20 of them in home healthcare. For the past several years, she has been with Care Options for Kids, a place she loves so much that she foresees staying on board until retirement. This is where she met her current client, O.M.

“I’ve been with O.M. for about two years, soon after he had his cleft palate repair surgery.”

Her shifts are from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM, and they involve quieting him down for the evening, bathing him, giving him his respiratory therapy because he has a trach, and getting some snuggle time.

“I think that time together during the evenings is why I’ve developed such a strong connection with him. I feel like he’s my grandbaby, and I do think that’s how he sees me.”

Establishing such a connection is precisely one of the reasons why Barbara made the switch from being a nurse at a hospital to home health care. “In hospitals, people come and go. In home health care, you get to see the client’s progression. Right now, with O.M., we still have a long way to go, but I’m enjoying my time with him.”

In addition, pediatric home health care provides her with the ability to care for the entire family; not just for the sick child. “When I worked at hospitals, the focus was always on the handicapped child. I would focus on the kid, and so would the parents. Whenever siblings would come in, the parents would often send them to play in the hospital’s playroom. While I understood, I also felt bad for the entire family. Living in a hospital, all of them were displaced. Their dynamics were so different, and I kept thinking that I wanted to take care of all of them.”

Working in home health care has given her the opportunity to do exactly that. “You really get to know all members of the family, and they get to know you. One of my favorite memories with this specific family is that one time, O.M.’s big brother came to me and said: ‘Thank you for taking care of my little brother’.” She breaks down in tears as she remembers. “That really touched my heart, and it made me realize that this is where I belong.”