At 12 years old, Norma Rowe, RN, lost her mother to cancer. This experience ultimately propelled her down the path of becoming a nurse.
“I was able to help with some of her care, and that experience changed me,” she recalls. “When I graduated from nursing school, I knew that I wanted to be an oncology nurse.”
We have been honored to have Norma with our ministry for nearly 20 years. Currently, she is a hospice nurse at the Bon Secours Community Hospice House. This warm, inviting 16-bed facility is designed to provide exceptional end-of-life care for Richmond community members.
Working with cancer patients in the early part of her nursing career taught Norma that there is a time when treatment stops, and compassionate comfort care should take over.
“After all, dying with dignity is something that each of us should experience,” she says.
Norma says the most rewarding part of her job as a hospice nurse is helping patients and families prepare for end of life by holding their hands as they leave the pain and suffering behind. She is also passionate about encouraging patients to embrace the peace that comes with dying.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been very difficult for hospice nurses. Norma’s personal experiences as a nurse in a pandemic serves as a reminder to her of why she and others are called to hospice nursing.
“It has changed how we grieve and support those who are grieving. We are nurses who hug, cry and laugh with our patients. Not being able to hug or hold hands is extremely heart-wrenching for both the patient and caregiver.”
During the pandemic, some of the core behaviors Norma saw in her fellow nurses and emulated were compassion, flexibility and resilience. Without families by the bedside, the role of the hospice nurse was even more critical in the space between life and death.
“End-of-life can be a profoundly spiritual time. As a nurse, caring for the sick and dying calls on my faith every day,” says Norma.
She adds, “caregiving reminds us that we are not in control of how long we are here on earth. However, we are in charge of how we spend our time here. My focus is providing the highest quality of care each day a patient is with us.”
Read more stories that celebrate our amazing Bon Secours nurses during National Nurses’ Week.
Also, learn about the health care services we offer at Bon Secours.