Nurse Vallerie Martin Named a Washingtonian Excellence in Nursing Award Winner

Community Hospices’ Nurse Vallerie Martin Named a Washingtonian Excellence in Nursing Award Winner

Vallerie Martin, RN, has been quietly and compassionately caring for dying hospice patients and their family members for 20 years – traveling to wherever they live in the District and Maryland to help them find peace in their final days.

Washingtonian magazine selected Vallerie as the 2016 Excellence in Nursing Award winner in General Nursing. The Excellence in Nursing Awards recognize and celebrate nurses in 11 nursing categories who go above and beyond the call of duty. Award finalists, from among more than 300 nominees, represented 15 area hospitals/health care providers.

Vallerie is the first and only hospice nurse in the metropolitan area to win a Washingtonian Excellence in Nursing Award since the award program’s inception in 2010. She is both grateful and humble. “Every single hospice nurse I work with does the same thing I do and each is deserving of recognition,” she said, “But I’m truly honored to receive the award.”

As a hospice nurse, Vallerie manages her patients’ pain, monitors medications, orders medical equipment, checks vital signs and communicates with their physicians. And she helps their families focus on what matters most to make their final days together meaningful.

Community Hospice volunteer Judith Riggs says that Vallerie is her model and mentor and cites one example of Vallerie’s exceptional caring. “There was an elderly widower with multiple medical problems that left him connected to an oxygen tube and catheter and able to move about only with a walker. He lived alone in a tiny apartment cluttered with a lifetime of accumulations making it impossible for him to move around without falling or entangling all the tubes that were keeping him alive. He was deeply anxious because he could not find the things that meant the most to him.

Vallerie supervised the reorganization of his apartment so he could move safely between his chair and bed, found an affordable, compassionate personal care aide for him, consulted with staff about his needs and recruited me as a volunteer to help him sort through his possessions to find what he was looking for and to relive with him, in the process, the memorable moments of his life. He died quietly and safely at home.”

According to Riggs, Vallerie, an RN certified in hospice and palliative care nursing, embodies the essence of hospice care by bringing comfort, meaning and peace to people at the end of their lives.

Riggs continues, “Perhaps the ultimate tribute to her role on the hospice team came from one of her colleagues who, upon being diagnosed with untreatable end-stage cancer, had one immediate request – that Vallerie be her hospice nurse and guide for the time she had left.”

Community Hospices, part of The Washington Home organization which was founded in 1888, has been providing hospice care since 1978 in patients’ homes and in Williams House – the first inpatient hospice facility in the District of Columbia. In 2001, the organization acquired Medstar VNA Home Hospice and Johns Hopkins Hospice in 2002 and now provides care and support to all in Washington DC, and Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in Maryland.

Hospice is a philosophy of care that focuses on comfort for people with advanced, life-limiting illnesses when cure is no longer an option. Community Hospices provides: physical care for pain control and symptom management; emotional and spiritual support; medical equipment, medications and supplies; grief support and trained volunteers for companionship and help with household chores. Medicare and Medicaid and many private insurers have a hospice benefit that covers the services of hospice staff, medications, supplies and equipment related to the hospice diagnosis.

Hospice care is directed by the patient and managed by a team of Community Hospice professionals that includes: the patient’s physician, the hospice physician, nurses, social workers, home health aides, chaplains and bereavement counselors and trained volunteers.

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