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When Ivoryton native Cathy Angier (née Scoboria) graduated from nursing school, she entered a career that could take her just about anywhere. After a year working in West Virginia, she realized the place she wanted to be was back in southern Connecticut. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Growing up, Cathy Angier loved the Cherry Ames series, the novels about a spunky nurse who not only cared for patients but also solved mysteries. At Valley Regional High School, Cathy was a member of the Future Nurses club. And today? Cathy is a nurse, a case manager at Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley (VNLV) in Centerbrook.
VNLV staff provides a wide spectrum of services from diabetic management and cardio-pulmonary care to physical and occupational therapy, nutritional management, wound care, and home health aides. VNLV can step in with everything from helping patients cope with chronic illness to providing speech therapy.
HomeCare Elite, a ratings organization, named VNLV as a Top 100 agency in 2015. VNLV, founded in 1920, serves in-home patients in an area stretching north to Higganum and Colchester and then along the shoreline from Madison to Waterford.
Don’t look for a visiting nurse in scrubs or a starched white uniform. Cathy points out they wear their own clothes on the job, not because it is a fashion statement. It is out of consideration for their patients.
“It protects the patients’ privacy. Not everybody wants other people to know a visiting nurse is coming into the home,” she explains.
For the same reason, even if Cathy sees a patient in another setting, out shopping for instance, she maintains the same level of decorum.
“We always try to keep things professional,” she says.
Cathy, who nursed at Middlesex Hospital for some 17 years and has also worked in doctors’ offices, says what she enjoys about being a visiting nurse is the ongoing connection with patients.
“It’s the ability to establish a relationship with someone long term, to be an advocate for that patient and to provide nursing care in an individual way. You are a liaison between the doctor and the patient,” she says.
She particularly enjoys doing wound care because she can see the progress as the wound heals.
In today’s medical world, insurance companies and government programs aim to get people out of the hospital as quickly as possible, and move those who need additional care into rehab facilities or home care. The result, Cathy points out, is that there is much more work for visiting nurses in a wider range of situations.
“We are filling a special need in people’s lives,” she says
The nurses work with physicians setting up a program of home services for their clients. In addition to providing specific services, Cathy says that part of the nurses’ ongoing responsibility is to educate the patients, particularly those dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes and congestive heart failure, on how they can best deal with their medical needs.
“We want to help people to learn how they can best follow their doctors’ advice,” she says.
Working as a visiting nurse is different from hospital nursing, according to Cathy, because there is no house medical staff to consult with.
“You are the only one there providing medical care. You learn to think on your feet,” she says.
Though most of the VNLV’s clients are older, they also serve young people, often in post-operative care. Most of the services are covered by various private and government insurance programs.
Cathy, whose maiden name was Scoboria, grew up in Ivoryton and now lives in Chester. After Valley Regional, she graduated from the school of nursing at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. Now, she notes, most people attend a community or a four-year college for their nursing certification.
“It’s a different climate now, but that’s the way it was done when I graduated,” she says.
After she got her nursing credentials, Cathy lived for a year in West Virginia but she missed southern Connecticut.
“I wanted to come back,” she recalls. “I wanted to raise my kids here.”
Cathy and her husband Bill have an adult son and daughter. Bill works for the town of Essex. Cathy’s own roots in the area are important to her in her nursing care.
“I like the ability to be out in the community. I know it sounds corny, but it is a chance to give back to the place that nourished myself and my children,” she says.
When she is not on the job, she likes to garden and she sings in the choir at St. Joseph’s church in Chester.
Cathy never had any doubt about her choice of profession. Her older sister, her aunt and her grandmother were nurses.
“I can’t imagine wanting to do anything else but nursing,” she says.
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