Home Care Nurse Finds That Faith and Service Bring Healing

It might happen on the way to a patient’s home, or on the way back. But sometime, somewhere, Nina Summers, R.N., will say a prayer. Not a long one, and maybe not even consciously or out loud. But she’ll ask God to give her wisdom and strength to meet the needs of every person in her care that day.

That assurance of divine guidance helps this Mission Achievement Award recipient from Walla Walla General Hospital (WWGH) excel at a job that is always unpredictable and endlessly challenging. As a nurse with Adventist Health/Home Care Services, she takes her skills and compassion on the road—driving within a 50-mile radius to care for as many as six patients in their homes or other settings each day.

Her clients range from the very young to the very old, and Nina provides everything from wound care and pain management to nutrition counseling. She might start an IV, change a dressing or evaluate possible medication interactions. She’s part nurse, part teacher, part friend—patiently meeting people where they are and carefully assessing their needs.

“The greatest thing about Nina is that she portrays the hands of Christ in a very real way,” said Bernie Hartnell, WWGH Home Care Services director. “She has such a gentle and engaging manner about her.”

While she’s disarming patients with questions about grandchildren or pets, she’s really watching their mobility or gauging their pain. “And when it comes to solutions, she’s not preachy at all,” added Hartnell. “She just lives the mission.”

Ever since she was 10 years old, Nina knew she wanted to be a nurse. Her grandfather was one, and everything about the profession fascinated her. Like other young women of the time, she devoured the book “A Nurse Called Tommie,” and a pre-college summer experience working in a nursing home cemented her career choice. “I just liked taking care of people,” she said.

More than three decades have elapsed since then—time filled with both exhilarating successes and unbearable heartaches. Just two years ago, she lost a teenage son in a tragic accident and recently her mother passed away. Despite the pain, her unwavering faith in God continues to sustain her. “I just read my Bible and gain strength from knowing He’s in control even when bad things are happening,” she said.

Co-workers are amazed at her positive spirit and resilience in the face of such devastating personal loss—especially at the way she’s channeled her grief into caring for her patients. “Through it all, she’s maintained an incredible ability to serve others,” stated Hartnell. “It’s been absolutely unbelievable.”

Today, Nina watches the power of God at work—patients near death who miraculously improve, life-threatening wounds that unexpectedly heal—and that inspiration takes her to another home. Another prayer. Another patient or family member with needs aching to be met. “I just try to promote health and peace as Christ would do,” Nina said. “Seeing people get better and find peace in their lives is the greatest reward of all.”

April 01, 2007 / Adventist Health
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