“Guest had been out of work for seven months when she applied to Nurses House for assistance. She had suffered a perforated diverticulitis which caused multiple pelvic abscesses. She was admitted to the hospital for five days and a pelvic drain was put in place to drain the largest infection site. Days later, she tried to return to work, but only a week passed before she had to return to the hospital. With a fever of 104, doctors informed her she would need a colostomy and would have to undergo surgery to remove part of her bowel. After surgery, there were only more complications, leading to three more surgeries over the next several months. Unable to work, she finally applied for public assistance, but the amount offered was not enough to pay bills and help support her daughter. She applied to Nurses House for assistance with basic expenses, and Nurses House was able to assist.” —Nurses House, stories from 2007
This is just one story from my favorite charity, Nurses House. In my work as a nursing advice columnist and career coach, I have often referred nurses to Nurses House when they needed help.
Originally a seaside mansion donated by nurse advocate Emily Bourne for the purpose of allowing nurses to rest “between cases,” the home is now a national charitable foundation dedicated to providing short-term financial assistance to nurses in need as a result of illness, injury or disability. In keeping with the origins of the foundation, fund recipients are still referred to as “guests.”
“Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, she underwent a mastectomy in December and was receiving chemotherapy and radiation when she applied to Nurses House. Living in a rural area, she had to travel over 70 miles to receive her treatments and was unable to work. Short-term disability was not available through her employer, and long-term disability benefits didn’t kick in for six months. Guest had no sick time or vacation time accumulated and had not received a paycheck for over a month when she applied for help. She had applied for public assistance, and Nurses House was able to offer assistance until it was approved.” —Nurses House, stories from 2007
There are many other nurses who turn to Nurses House every day: the single-parent nurse diagnosed with a chronic illness and in need of financial support to pay her utilities; or the nurse on the verge of eviction while recovering from a work-related injury, his wife diagnosed with cancer. In the latter case, his worker’s comp barely covered his living expenses and his wife’s mounting medical bills.
Nurses House only has enough funds to help about half of those who seek assistance each year. You can support the organization in several ways:
- Make a donation to Nurses House in lieu of holiday gift-giving or in memory of a loved one.
- Collect money at work during Nurses Week and throughout the year.
- Honor a coworker or mentor with a donation.
- Petition your professional associations to have fundraisers for Nurses House.
Nurses are always busy taking care of everyone else and are often the last ones to ask for help ourselves. This is one way for nurses to take care of other nurses. Please join me in supporting Nurses House by giving what you can and encouraging others, both nurses and non-nurses, to do the same.