Like any major city, commuting in Lagos, Nigeria, comes with hectic street ways and pedestrian-filled sidewalks. Many rely on public transportation which includes the popular yellow commercial buses known as a “Danfo.” An eager student skipping to the bus stop, 5-year-old Abimbola “Elisa” Emmanuel was suddenly thrust into her first memorable health care experience.
“At the bus stop, the rule is to keep moving,” says Elisa. It is common for the bus conductors to hang outside the door and use one hand to lift a running passenger onto a moving Danfo. While attempting to board the bus, Elisa was thrown to the ground, causing her to hit her head on the pavement. Elisa’s memory of the accident is vague, her mother, however, will never forget the gut-wrenching feeling she experienced when informed that her child was unconscious. Having only spent a few days in the hospital, Elisa made a full recovery.
Today, Elisa says, “I will never forget the invaluable comfort and encouragement my nurse extended during an otherwise traumatizing experience.”
From that day forward, Elisa knew she wanted to be a nurse and has made it her life’s mission to repay the kindness shown to her and her family.
Elisa’s family moved to the United States wanting to provide the best opportunity for her to pursue her dream. She received her first job as a certified nursing assistant while still in high school. After graduating, she pursued a bachelor’s degree and went on to receive her master’s in Clinical Nurse Leadership at the University of Maryland. Elisa has worked in several different settings as a registered nurse including clinics and hospitals. She now serves as the Vice President of Clinical Services and Performance Improvement for HSC Home Care, LLC.
HSC Home Care is a pediatric home care agency serving children with complex health care needs in Washington, D.C. HSC Home Care’s clients require the highest level of services and support due to the intensity of care required to provide optimal outcomes. According to the Children’s Hospital Association, children with medical complexities account for one-third of all pediatric health care costs, and 80 percent of that is spent on hospitalization. Having spent time in a hospital at a young age, Elisa advocates for the importance of providing medical in-home care and the impact it not only has on decreasing the length of hospital stay but also alleviating the strain on families.
“Nobody wants to be in an institution forever,” Elisa affirms. She believes there is a “hidden magic” in allowing a child to heal in a familiar environment surrounded by family; a quality of home care that can’t be quantified.
Demand for home care nurses has grown exponentially over the last decade and children five and under account for the largest area of growth (Children’s Hospital Association. “The landscape of medical care for children with medical complexity” 2013). Elisa, recipient of Health Care Council of the National Capital Area’s 2018 Employee of the Year Award, has led her clinical team in implementing processes to meet the growing demands. HSC Home Care’s family-centered strategy reinforces specialty training among staff such as infusion therapy and ventilation practices as well as care team integration to empower clients, their families, and their caregivers the ability to carry out their care plans at home.
Elisa recalls the mother of a 13-year-old client with cancer who struggled with administering infusion therapy. With patience, understanding, compassion, and expertise Elisa coached the mom until she felt confident enough to care for her child at home. Years later, that child’s mother contacted Elisa to thank her for the care she provided that aided in the child’s road to recovery and share that their encounter inspired the mother to enroll in nursing school. Elisa feels grateful to have discovered her passion for nursing at the age of five and is fulfilled knowing she has inspired others to do the same.
Jade Ricks is a Program Assistant in the External Affairs Department of The HSC Health Care System. For more information, please visit hschealthcare.org/nurseweek.