|Patricia King-Valls, Health and Home Care Nurse|
Every other week, 63-year old Corona resident Rosa Mason has a warm cup of café con leche waiting for her home health care nurse, Patricia King-Valls. Other days, the Ecuadorean patient sets aside a fresh slice of freshly-baked, homemade cake.
In return, King-Valls teaches Mason and her other homebound patients to manage their chronic diseases, care for wounds, and administer insulin and other crucial medications. She even teaches new mothers how to take care of newborn babies.
“I thank Patricia for being alive. She is beyond excellent. She goes the extra mile for me,” says Mason, who has been King-Valls’ patient for a little over a year for treatment of renal failure and diabetes.
King-Valls is one of 100 nurses who are part of Health and Home Care, the home care agency of the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation. The nurses care for an average of 12,000 homebound patients annually throughout the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. They also act as liaisons between patients and doctors, guiding and referring clients to various outpatient services and treatments in their local communities.
“Home health care is where my heart is,” says King-Valls, a 57-year old married mother of six, who was born and raised in Brooklyn and started her career in the emergency room at Kings County Hospital Center almost three decades ago.
“When you see patients at home you see how they live, eat, who visits them, the neighborhood, where they can buy their fresh fruits and vegetables, how they take care of themselves,” she explains. “Those things give me a better understanding of the patient and what is important to them, and that allows me to do my job more efficiently.”
A perk of the job, says King-Valls, is the exposure to the great diversity of people who live in the city.
“The Chinese offer me tea, Hispanics give me coffee, and Russians give me chocolates,” she says, laughing. “I’ve learned a lot about the world in my job in Queens.”
King-Valls’ home care nurse unit is based at Elmhurst Hospital. On a typical day she visits five to six patients throughout Queens, where she lives, and Roosevelt Island. And King-Valls does it with a smile on her face, making her one of the most popular home health care nurses in her unit, says Ann M. Frisch, Executive Director of HHC Health and Home Care.
“Pat is a consummate professional who not only has excellent clinical skills but is wonderfully compassionate, has great interpersonal and organizational skills and a great sense of humor,” Frisch says.
The job has its challenges, King-Valls says. She has been mugged and her car broken into. “I’ve braved blizzards, snowstorms and heat waves, walked up 15 double landings of stairs because the elevator is broken,” she says.
Yet she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When I leave a patient’s home knowing that they are feeling well, or their wound has healed, or they know how to take their blood sugar and administer their insulin, and they say, ‘I’m going to miss you nurse, and thank you,’ that is satisfaction,” she says. “When you leave that patient knowing that you’ve given them your all, it feels great.”March 2011