Vivien Porter works in the homes of her patients, checking their vital signs, the expiration dates on their medications – but her patients will tell you that Porter’s care goes beyond that.
As Porter herself said, being a home-care nurse starts with the notion of respect and gratitude.
“Being in the patient’s home, it’s a vulnerable position, and I just appreciate being able to teach and help them,” Porter said.
For the past two years, Porter has been a case manager with Bowes In Home Care, 813 Tek Drive, Crystal Lake. There, her duties consist of visiting patients in their homes, treating their ailments, and helping them better understand their conditions and recovery plan.
“I’m going over their disease process with them and kind of all of the ins and outs of what that means,” Porter said. “I’m reinforcing that at each visit, but usually I’m trying to spread it out so that the patient isn’t overwhelmed by how much information there is to take in, so that they feel once they’re discharged, they can be safe and effective on their own.”
Bowes In Home Care is a Medicare-certified agency with programs that focus on specific disease treatments and educating its patients to reduce hospital re-admissions, according to the business’ website.
The beginning of Porter’s nursing career marked the end of her position as a Montessori school teacher. At 31 years old, Porter went back to school to pursue her nursing education.
“Teaching has always been something that I enjoy and the nursing piece – I think when I was younger, I was interested in the medical field, but I didn’t really have the confidence to go back to school,” Porter said.
Porter started with home health care, and then worked in a hospital cardiac unit before moving back to home care.
“I wanted to be able to spend more time with patients,” she said. “On the floor, it’s just in and out, and you’re connecting with people, but it’s different than being in their home.”
Porter’s knack for teaching and nursing isn’t lost on the people she treats. In fact, it’s what one former patient, Katie Nauert said makes Porter stand out as the best nurse she’s ever had.
“She is extremely knowledgeable, does continuing care to learn how to do things differently and explains things in layman’s terms so that I am able to understand what’s going on,” Nauert said.
Left with lasting spinal and hip injuries after a car accident in 2003, Nauert has seen her share of home-care nurses, but none seem to hold a candle to Porter, she said.
Throughout her time as Nauert’s nurse, Porter made herself available at all hours, and has continued to check in on Nauert although she is no longer her caregiver.
“She’s good to people even though people might not be very receptive at that point,” Nauert said. She still does her job professionally and compassionately.”
In the future, she’d like to combine her skills and look for work as a nursing instructor.
It’s an aspiration that will require more experience and education, but in the meantime, working for Bowes has proven to be a task that is fulfilling for both Porter and those she looks after.
“I think it’s important to be with a patient where they’re at and seeing how to really get to know them, so that they feel like they’re not just this kind of task,” Porter said. “They’re not their disease; they’re much more than that.”