It seemed like a typical day for Williamsport, PA Adult (WIA) nurse Melissa Hawley, LPN. Drawing on her clinical expertise and a healthy dose of compassion, she was caring for her client, Monica, a 22-year old with Rett syndrome, a rare genetic neurological disorder that leads to severe impairments, affecting the ability to speak, walk, eat, and breathe.
Melissa had no way to know that Monica and her mother Pearl, were in on a well-kept secret. While Pearl kept Melissa distracted near the front of the house, the WIA office team were busy in the backyard, decorating her car and wielding signs, balloons, party hats, and horns.
A hero’s tribute
It was all part of a surprise celebration to honor Melissa as the WIA LPN Hero of the quarter.
“We wanted to honor Melissa by throwing a huge party at the office, but we had to make alternate plans because of COVID-19,” said WIA Director Terry Abernatha. “Since Pearl and Monica wanted to join the celebration, we decided to have the party in their backyard!”
True to her humble nature, when Melissa discovered that her colleagues were gathered outside, she didn’t want to come out of the house. “I had no idea I had been nominated as a Hero. I was really shocked,” she said. “I take care of people because that’s what I do.”
Indeed, Melissa has been making a difference in people’s lives since 2001 when she started working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in a nursing home. Fortunately, a supervisor saw her potential and encouraged her to go to nursing school. Two years ago, she transitioned from working in the nursing home to BAYADA and never looked back.
Balancing family life with meaningful work
“Home care gives me the flexibility that I didn’t have when I worked in long-term care,” said Melissa, a wife and mother to three children, ages 11, 12, and 13. “With BAYADA, I can balance caring for my clients and also be there for my family to cook dinner and spend time with the kids.”
Melissa also loves the one-on-one time she spends with her clients. “I can shower them with the extra attention that I couldn’t give in a nursing home,” she said. “I get to know so much more about them on a personal level. I love hearing stories of their lives and special moments.”
Client Services Manager Bryan Bellinger has seen, first-hand, the impact Melissa has made on her clients. “She is reliable, dependable, and has a positive attitude,” he said. “These qualities make her very likable to her clients and they feel comfortable with her. She cares deeply not only for her clients but for their families as well. She does whatever she can to help when needed and is a huge asset to our team.”
Clinical Manager Kwarmaine Mathis couldn’t agree more. “Melissa is a great communicator and team player. She loves her clients and will do everything in her power to ensure they receive the best possible care.”
As for Melissa, she never expected recognition for a job she loves. “Working at BAYADA has truly been a blessing,” she said.