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The Nursing Team!

Words written in cursive over a pale blue paper with red paper hearts.  Image reads "Thank you, Nurses"“The role of the nurse in DCF Health and Wellness Division is unique and different than that of the traditional direct care role," explained Jane MacFarlane, RN MSN -- DCF Director of Nursing. "But no less important to the health and wellbeing of the individuals the department serves.  Our nurses provide the essential function of the health and medical oversight of the children in care whether these children are residing in their home, a foster home or a congregate care setting. We are very excited to spotlight two of our nurses who have gone above and beyond."

Image of DCF Nurse Kimberly Kanaitis, MSN RN, smiling brightly in a green shirtKimberly Kanaitis, MSN RN is a Clinical Nurse Coordinator for the Regional Resource Group. “I was in tears. I was completely honored,” Kimberly stated when asked to speak about her role. “I hoped the article would also recognize all agency nurses; I am just a part of a team." With Kimberly’s previous nursing experience being community based with a focus on pediatrics, she was inspired to work for the Department. “For the past nine years, I feel like I am a liaison between the community, the staff and our families. I work to change the perception of the Department. So much good work is happening here."

Kimberly explained that it was a difficult transition to leave community nursing to work for the Department. “I tried hard not to overstep in a social work environment, “ she stated. My focus here is to educate our social work staff, our families, foster families and help those understand and interpret data." Kimberly is also responsible for developing a medical plan for children in foster care and providing medical care support to biological families, kinship families and foster families, especially those who focus on medically complex levels of care.

When asked if she has seen a shift in the Department’s philosophy over the years, Kimberly stated she has seen many positive changes. “I have seen such a change in the Department’s permanency goals. We now work as a team to go above and beyond to ensure all possible barriers of reunification are lifted. Kids belong home when it is possible. This job is hugely rewarding, especially when I can help a child get to a point where they are medically able to reunify."

Kimberly shared that the Covid-19 Pandemic greatly impacted the work. “We scrambled as a team to provide timely and accurate information to our families and implemented protocols with educational tools and resources,” she explained. “I am pretty proud of our division. We nailed it! The Department gave us all the tools we needed to get this it done. The Division is now so much further ahead. We have accomplished so much over the past year, and, as staff, we are so much closer with more interaction and communication."

Image of DCF Nurse Melody Davis, BSN RN smiling cheerfully with cute hoop earrings For the past nine years, Melody Davis, BSN RN has been a Nurse in the Regional Resource Group. "Part of a team that is makes connections, providing resources and empowering our families and our children to advocate for themselves." She stated adding, “when I first started my work here, I saw how hard the social workers were working to help families and make connections. I was so inspired by their work."

Reminiscent of a case that she shadowed during her training period, she recalls the positive impact that teamwork between the social work staff, the birth family, pre-adoptive family and hospital staff had on the medical planning and health of the little girl involved.

“There are so many moving parts when it comes to working with a family who becomes involved with DCF," Melody explained. "A nurse's involvement may be delayed in some cases due to caregivers or parents’ resistance to sign releases or share necessary information about the children. Nursing will often find themselves as the liaison for the children when there is a critical barrier in communication between medical providers."

When asked how the COVID- 19 Pandemic impacted the day-to-day work, Melody was clear. “We needed to understand the virus and disseminate the information timely. We never worked alone, we worked together as a team with Jane and Dr. Taylor’s oversight and support. We increased our communication through consistent phone call check-ins, attending virtual appointments and follow-ups”.

Melody feels that the nursing staff were able to provide relief and comfort during a very frightening time. “This will absolutely change the way we do our work going forward."

“This has been a particular challenge for all the nurses during the pandemic”, explained Jane MacFarlane.  Explaining “in addition to their normal busy workload, they have also been involved in monitoring all children in care who have been exposed and/or tested positive for COVID-19.  They ALL deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication, especially over the last 15 months.”