When eight-year-old Kaia was born with significant medical needs, doctors told her mom, Jaymie Leib, that Kaia had three to six months to live due to many complications and they suggested hospice care. Jaymie declined hospice but prepared herself to spend every minute of the next six months sharing special moments with her daughter, as she knew the time would go by quickly.
“When your child gets a life threatening diagnosis, you become the diagnosis as well,” Jaymie said. Seizures, feeding, and development were just some of the issues that Jaymie quickly learned to process, cope with, and address. She did this all while making sure she also had time to spend with her 2-year old son.
As time passed, Kaia became stronger and with a lot of love from her family, with great support from her doctors and therapists, and with prayers from many, she made it through her first year. And that first year became eight years. “I feel I have established close relationships with her doctors and therapists,” Jaymie said. “I tell them all the time how I appreciate them and all they do.”
In addition to caring for her own child with special needs, Jaymie also works as a pediatric nurse caring for the children of other parents who are walking in the same shoes she knows all too well. Caring for her daughter at such an early age influenced Jaymie to turn her attention from an adult nursing emphasis to a pediatric emphasis over the years. “Having seen my daughter come this far on a day-to-day basis when she wasn’t expected to live made me realize that I have a lot to offer other families who have children with special medical needs, “ she recalls.
Because of her experience, Jaymie often accepts night shifts and takes on some of the most difficult cases. Not only because she has the clinical skill, but moreover, because she knows what the families are going through and because she can offer an unspoken support that many others can’t.
Feeling there was more she could do in addition to caring for her children and working as a nurse, Jaymie now is focusing her attention on patient advocacy. Over the last number of years, pediatric home health services have helped her to sleep at night and feel comfortable leaving her daughter to go to work. She sees all of the challenges in home health care from the perspective of both the client and the employee.
“I don’t overlook the little things anymore,” she said. Jaymie explains that her daughter has taught her to see the world through innocent eyes. But her daughter can’t tell others how important home care is and how very much her family relies on it. She just doesn’t have that ability and neither do many of the clients that Jaymie has taken care of as a nurse. “You learn to be their voice because they can’t be,” Jaymie said.
Jaymie is concerned about the future of home health care. She explained that great nurses are needed in both hospitals and home care, but because people spend most of their time at home, where they are most comfortable, our efforts should be focused on regulations and funding that strengthen home care programs. “We all need to come together with our stories because this will matter to everyone at some point in their life, “she said.
Once she realized how important her voice and experience could be in shaping laws and policies that impact home care, Jaymie reached out to Rick Hynick, BAYADA’s Director of Client and Family Advocacy. Working with Rick, she is now using her voice to speak with legislators and regulators to advocate for those receiving home health care that don’t have a voice.
Although Jaymie is not a professional athlete, she is a loving mom, a professional caregiver, and now a voice for many. She makes the world a better place. She is a Champion Among Us!