Karla Stead, RN
“Hospice care shows you what’s important in life”
Hospice is the greatest love of my life and the greatest teacher. It has a way of showing you what’s important and puts things in perspective. I’ve witnessed love, forgiveness, holding on and letting go that I never knew existed. It’s powerful. I knew I wanted to be a nurse after my grandpa passed. He was the greatest man in my life, who was stricken with cancer and passed away on the oncology floor of a hospital. It felt so cold and lonely, and not the way I would’ve liked to have seen it. I decided to become a nurse and live a life that would change that for families. After getting my nursing license, I moved to Arizona and my first ever nursing job was at East Valley Hospice. I credit the Medical Director, Kent Allen, who also owned the hospice, for my career trajectory and for teaching me so much. Dr. Allen had a strong belief in the philosophy of hospice care, in the whole interdisciplinary team being involved on a deep level. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for his teaching and methodology.
My career has taken me to many different hospices, both small as well as large for-profit organizations, before I arrived at Hospice of Redmond in 2014. I learned a great deal working for corporate hospices, but I was looking for something else; something smaller, more autonomous and independent with no big-city living. I had served as an Executive Director prior to joining our hospice team, and while I miss getting out and interacting with patients and families as a nursing case manager, I love leading our team. As a nurse, one of the most challenging things was not taking the job home with you. It’s hard to come home and detach from what you’ve done all day, hang up your jacket and get away when you’re so invested in the care for your patients and families. As Executive Director one of the most challenging aspects now is finding ways to curb burnout and support staff. I know how hard the job is as a nurse or CNA, and know that organizational culture is so pivotal, it can make such a difference.
I love working here at Hospice of Redmond. As a small non-profit, we are always doing more with less, but it is the most rewarding job I’ve had. I know every staff member and can watch our team come together like family to support the community. Our patients are so well cared for. When you can say a patient’s name and the entire clinical team knows who that person is, it makes such a difference. It provides continuity of care for our patients as the whole organization practices and demonstrates our commitment to personalized care daily. We comfort families and provide that foundation for support. The greatest cause of fear in so many things is the fear of the unknown. Teaching and educating eases that anxiety; our team is committed to providing families with that knowledge to quell their fears and make the process a bit easier.
You truly learn a great deal about life by working in death and witness the most unforgettable moments of families reuniting, hearing keys to 60 years of marriage, watching sons and daughters come back into the lives of their mothers and fathers. The rewards greatly outweigh the daily challenges of this work, because doing this job will take what you give it, but I cannot imagine doing something else and loving it the way I love what I do now.