Care that never quits
Germain Harper, LPN
A traumatic brain injury can shatter a life: the suddenness of it, the terror and despair of a broken life and different brain. When a nurse brings somebody back from such a brink, what does it take? It takes devoted care, day in and day out. It takes Germain Harper, LPN.
Germain is the definition of care that never quits, just like his 20-year-old client Kyle refuses to quit. Germain’s been caring for Kyle for two years now, helping him live with a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI) Kyle sustained when a car hit him on his skateboard.
While his friends were graduating high school and preparing for college, Kyle came home from the hospital bedridden and needing total care. It was a difficult climb, but thanks to a lot of resilience and hard work, Kyle’s making incredible progress to regain a normal life—and even plans to attend Cornell University.
For Germain, the key to aiding Kyle’s recovery has been staying attuned to his client’s goals and personality. “There are vital cognitive ‘windows’ where the brain needs nurturing and guidance toward the right activities for optimal recovery,” Germain says. “My BAYADA team and I stayed on top of that process.”
Today, Germain marvels at how far they’ve come together, “Kyle had the worst brain injury I’d ever seen, but he’s had the best recovery.”
Carving his own path
Germain had his eye on BAYADA Home Health Care since he was in high school, inspired by his mom’s experiences as a BAYADA Nurse. “My mom would come home from work and tell me stories about her clients and coworkers. She really loved working there. You could tell how rewarding it was for her,” Germain says. As a teenager, he got a taste of caregiving for himself and began building his health care résumé by helping his mother run a group home and even getting certified to provide in-home dialysis.
“It was always my greatest goal to become a BAYADA Nurse, but life took twists and turns as it usually does,” Germain explains. “I went to college and worked a bunch of different jobs. I was a truck driver, a security supervisor… But when I became a New York City paramedic, that was it. I knew I wanted to focus on my health care career.”
Germain went back to school and earned his LPN in 2014. Immediately after, he went to work in a skilled nursing rehab facility where he was able to hone his nursing skills and get ready for his ultimate goal: being a home care nurse with BAYADA.
Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible
Today you can find Germain easing his client into the car. They go to the mall for Kyle’s favorite Chinese food, or to the gym for strength training and to improve Kyle’s walk—still somewhat affected by his left-side deficits. Soon, Kyle will be able to drive again, according to his doctor. “This is a huge milestone for independence,” Germain stresses, cheering him on.
These scenarios were just a hopeful glimmer when Kyle emerged from a coma two years ago. He had a shattered leg, a broken neck, and part of his skull removed (now melded beautifully with a prosthetic).
He needed around-the-clock care. Enter Germain.
In the dark early days of Kyle’s brain injury, Germain’s talents and devotion shone like a bright light that helped keep him going. “You can never lose sight of the toll a broken spirit can take on recovery from a brain injury,” Germain points out. “It can halt progress, so you need to address it immediately.”
Right away, Germain took him out as much as possible in a wheelchair-accessible van. “As part of his recovery, I wanted him to socialize and be with his friends. I even carried him into a swimming pool so he wouldn’t miss out on the fun at a high school graduation party.”
Germain and his BAYADA care team worked with Kyle on therapy exercises to be able to stand and regain mobility with daily activities. Eventually, Kyle ditched the wheelchair for walks in the park. Now, he and Germain work out often at the gym and Kyle’s gait is still improving—he’s about 80 percent there, physically, according to Germain.
Mentally, the story is even more positive: From the beginning, Germain pushed Kyle to go to college. “He was an honors student before, and he’d get there again. It wasn’t easy for Kyle. We’d go to the career center and I’d say, ‘Just do five minutes of work this morning; we’ll go again and do five more in the afternoon.’ Now, Kyle is up to almost an hour, and his math skills are almost where they used to be.”
“I’m so proud of Germain and how he exemplifies our core values of compassion, excellence, and reliability,” says BAYADA Client Services Manager Jeff Peacock, who coordinates Kyle’s care schedule. “Germain takes the unthinkable and makes everything doable again.”
Germain is modest about everything he does outside of work, but he’s no less a hero in his own family and community. “My flexible schedule allows me to be an associate pastor at church, attend our kids’ sports, spend time with our family and newborn baby… and now I’m providing morning and night care for my elderly grandparents who are sick,” Germain mentions, almost casually.
Now he says he’s fulfilled and really enjoying his work-life balance. “I am very happy. Honestly, this is the best job I’ve ever had.”
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