Maureen Hession, RN, MSN, FNP-C, was honored recently as a 2017 Health Care Hero by Triangle Business Journal. She was the only Nurse Practitioner honored, joined by MDs, nurses, hospital managers and administrators, and several health care related agencies. It was a proud night for Maureen, of course, but also for her many friends and colleagues who know the excellent care she gives patients. Mike, Chatham, Paula and I, as well as Maureen’s close friends Liz Jones and Sara Rooker, attended the evening dinner awards ceremony. It was a wonderful night for all of us. There is not a more deserving honoree for this award than Maureen, and it was a privilege to celebrate with her.
The Health Care Awards ceremony was one of my few outings in the past two weeks, since I am still recovering from a car accident. During these two weeks Maureen, who is called MoMo by friends and family, moved in with us to care for me. A better care giver could not be found. She changed dressings, cooked, and made sure that I had whatever I needed. Mike cared for me as well, but having MoMo there gave both Mike and me a sense of peace and comfort that we would not have had otherwise.
I first met Maureen in 1986 when she was a staff nurse and I was VP of Patient Care/Nursing at Rex Hospital. She was chosen by her peers to represent them on a Practice Committee developed to improve nursing decision making in patient care and for nurses. I recognized in Maureen a real love for patients and patient care, and saw in her the ability and willingness to push the system, to improve things, for patients and staff. At times this resulted in resistance from others, (of course) but Maureen did not back down. She has always been clear about what patients need, and has fought for those things, even when to do so was not popular. She was an expert clinician, even then. I am not the only person to have said that Maureen is more clinically competent than many MDs.
MoMo became a member of our family many years ago. Sometimes she seems like a younger sister, and at other times, she feels like our oldest child! She came into our family when Tara and Chatham were teenagers, and now we and she have the honor of her love and caring of our grandchildren. Through the years Tara has usually called MoMo when she has had a health care need or a question related to her children; not me, her mother, who is a nurse! That is fitting, since I have not been in the clinical field for over forty years, and certainly do not consider my clinical skills current. In my case the statute of limitations has run out on the loved expression repeated by many nurses; “Once a nurse, always a nurse!” I am more than glad for MoMo be the expert for our family’s health care needs.
A few years after she came into our life, I encouraged Maureen to continue her education. At that point she had a diploma in Nursing, and while that had served her fine as a staff nurse, it would not provide her the opportunities to make an impact at the macro level. This was at the time when it was becoming clear that advanced practice nurses would fill a major role in the future health care delivery system, especially as Nurse Practitioners. This required that Maureen go back to school and complete an undergraduate degree, then a master’s degree and certification as a Nurse Practitioner. Maureen did just that. In 2002 Maureen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master’s degree in Nursing and became certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Since then she has worked as a Nurse Practitioner in primary care practice settings, at Rex in the Urgent Cares, and for the past two years at North Carolina State University in Student Health. In each of these settings, Maureen has had patients and their families write her and tell her that she saved their lives. Her clinical diagnostic skills and her attention to detail, as well as her love for her patients, is what separates her from others who see what they do as only a job.
Maureen gives me some of the credit for inspiring her to complete her education and become a Nurse Practitioner, stating that she would never have known she could do it without my encouragement. I always respond to that with, “You did the work!” I am proud to have had a small part in it.
Every day Maureen continues to do the work, the work of caring for patients at the highest level, not leaving until the work is done. She truly loves what she does, and that is evident in so many ways.
Congratulations to you, Maureen, for a well-deserved honor. We celebrate you, and the difference you make in patient care and for patients, every day. We are all better because of your care and caring.