Care Options for Kids caregiver Sherri Friscia has an impressive background: She’s worked as a technician for fighter aircrafts for the Air Force and as a surgical nurse. But it’s been her work with Care Options for Kids Health Care that has allowed her to fully connect with pediatric patients, something that fulfills her every day.
“I’ve been caring for Baby T. for about six months.” She’s been working with him daily in twelve hour shifts, and she’s completely charmed by him.
Baby T has special needs, he has a tracheostomy and needs to be supported by a ventilator on a 24/7 basis. On a typical day, Sherri arrives at Baby’s home at 7:00AM and makes sure that all of his medications are in order.
“I have to be very careful when I move him, because he’s so fragile.” Despite Baby T’s medical condition, he loves to play. “I teach him how to blow kisses, and I sing crazy songs to him all the time. He laughs a lot. He loves it!”
He’s also starting to roll over on his own. “That’s a very big deal, since he spent the first 8 months of his life hospitalized. He’s learning to grab things. He loves to bite my fingers. He thinks it’s so funny to do that!” she laughs.
Despite the easy, friendly relationship she’s developed with Baby T, she’s very aware of the fact that she has to be on high alert at all times: Because of his health issues, he could have a crisis at any moment, so she makes sure to do an assessment every day when she shows up for her shift. “You have to be ready for emergencies and know the equipment.”
When asked why she decided to pursue home health care as a career, the answer comes quickly: “I used to be a surgical nurse, which is very satisfying. But while surgery is great, you don’t get to see the patient afterwards. I wanted to see how they progress and to make a long-term difference in their lives.”
She also loves to prove people wrong. “Baby T’s development has been very delayed, because he’s a special needs child. But he’s learned so much in the short period of time I’ve been caring for him. I sit him up and he puts his tiny hands down to balance himself. He mimics some of the sounds I make, and he knows he has to stay calm when I suction his trach port. He hangs on to my hand and stares at my eyes. But he doesn’t move. When we’re done, he kicks around and laughs.”
She also knows that being a pediatric caregiver for fragile children requires a lot of specialized knowledge and patience. “There aren’t too many nurses who do this kind of job, because it’s a big responsibility. It can be scary, but I love it; and Baby T knows that I care. Children know whether we’re there because we have to be or because we want to be.”
She’s also convinced that her military discipline and surgical nurse experience prepared her for this role. “I don’t know if I could be doing this without that training.”
She’s very aware that it can be difficult to work in pediatric care, but she still loves her job.
“I love to help these babies. Even if they only learn how to smile, you know you’ve done something good.”