Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Labor of Love: Nursing career born of heartbreak
By CINDI BROWNFIELD
NEWS-JOURNAL EDUCATION WRITER
DAYTONA BEACH — It was the worst day of Caterina Goldbergs life.
On the morning of April 1, 2000, her 43-year-old husband, Richie, suffered a brain hemorrhage – a kind of stroke – at the Beach Street cafe they had just purchased.
Richies family flew in from New York, and Caterina reluctantly signed a “Do Not Resuscitate” order for the love of her life. They waited for death in an intensive care unit.
“The doctor said there was nothing they could do,” she said.
Thinking back, Goldberg isnt sure she could have survived that horrible day if not for Richies nurse at Halifax Medical Center. The nurse allowed the family to stay to the end, long after visiting hours, and let Goldberg lie in bed with her dying husband.
“She took care of us, not just him,” Goldberg said. “She helped him out of this life gently.”
Inspired by the experience, Goldberg decided to become a registered nurse. She graduated Monday from Daytona Beach Community College and started a job the same day in intensive care at Halifax.
It was DBCCs largest nursing class ever, with 90 students earning associate degrees in nursing, said department chairwoman Linda Miles. The program has doubled in size over the past two years in response to the nationwide nursing shortage.
Goldberg, 39, of Daytona Beach, admits it was tough when she first started her clinical training at Halifax. But there were signs she had made the right decision.
Her first patient two years ago was a man whod survived the kind of stroke that had killed her husband. Goldberg continued her studies, training in almost every unit of the hospital. Intensive care was her last clinical rotation this spring, and Goldberg was nervous.
She opened her schedule and could not believe her eyes. Intensive medical care, it read, beginning April 1, 2004 – the same unit where Richie had died, on the anniversary of his death.
Goldberg might have called in sick, but the night before she had a dream.
“I knew that I had to go on,” she said. “I knew it was no accident I was scheduled that night. I knew I had to be there that night to come full circle.”
After peeking into the room where her husband died, Goldberg was assigned to train with a nurse down the hall. After a while, another nurse came in to say hello. It was Richies nurse, Debra Yocum.
“She said, ‘Im the nurse who took care of your husband. Well, I was okay up to that point,” Goldberg said. “I said, ‘Do you know youre the whole reason Im here?’ ”
They cried together, reflecting on the day that had been so tough.
Looking ahead, Goldberg will spend a few days this week in orientation at Halifax and then will become a “graduate nurse,” which is the term for nurses before they pass their national exams for licensure. She hopes to take the test within a month to become a registered nurse.
Halifax has hired about 100 new nurses in the past nine weeks, most for new positions created because of growth, hospital spokesman John E. Evans said. The hospital is almost fully staffed, he said.
Goldberg is looking forward to working in the intensive surgical care unit, just one floor down from the intensive medical care unit where Richie died.
“I have no doubt shell be a good nurse,” said Sue Resnik, DBCC associate professor of nursing. “She knows what its like on the other side. Shes been on the family side of a person who had a serious illness and died.”
Even Goldberg herself believes walking in the “widows shoes” will make her a better nurse.
“I think I have a real, true compassion,” Goldberg said. “I understand what the families go through.”